Skip to main content

Full text of "The education of a music lover : a book for those who study or teach the art of listening"

See other formats

•zrv&fRD im:msoi- 

















c r\ r^ t i-. #Tn ■*■ n „ 







music imm 







This book is due at the MUSIC LIBRARY on 
the last date stamped under "Date Due." If not on hold, it may 
be renewed by bringing it to the library. 

"^Ldue returned 








Music in the History of the Western 

Church. Cr. 8vo net $2.50 

The Study of the History of Music. Cr. 

8vo net $2.50 

The Education of a Music Lover. 12mo 

net $1.50 

Music and the Higher Education. 12rno 

net $1.50 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 









Copyright, 19 11, by 

Published March, 191 1 

Second Impression, June, 1911 

Third Impression, November, 191E 

Fourth Impression, June, 1914 

Fifth Impression, March, 1915 




The lost art, that is perhaps nearest of all arts 
to eternity, the subtle art of listening. 

— William Butler Yeats. 

This book is an attempt to interpret music to 
those who already love it upon slight acquaintance 
and desire the fuller enjoyment that comes with 
larger knowledge. It is the part of wisdom to 
make studious preparation for any enterprise that 
adds to the wealth of the mind, whether it be travel- 
ling in foreign lands, looking at pictures, or taking 
a walk. It is a question of seeing much, of seeing 
correctly, and of retaining what one sees. With 
some preliminary acquaintance with the facts of 
art or nature there is intelligent expectation, and 
afterward a sense of permanent possession. 

It .goes without saying that so extensive a survey 
of musical art as I propose is not intended for those 
who hear music only for transient, superficial 
pleasure. Not that I would condemn such pleas- 
ure; — the instant joy, the sudden elevation of mood 
which fine music brings, even to those who know 
nothing about its principles, is not to be despised; 
the effect is not altogether evanescent, since every 
impression upon the senses alters the mental con- 
stitution, and even a slight visitation of truth or 


beauty leaves us a little higher in reason's scale 
than we were before. But still, this fugitive ex- 
perience does not quite satisfy a person who is con- 
stantly bent on self-improvement, and he will be 
inclined to ask how he can add something more 
tangible to his momentary satisfactions, and draw 
from music that which will call into play his active 
powers of observation and reflection and give his 
understanding something solid to feed upon. 

The present volume is the result of many years 
of experience in leading students into the mysteries 
of music. The writing of it has been especially 
associated with the very delightful task of inter- 
preting to college men and women the message of 
the great tone masters from every point of view 
that may be suggested by their works. In the 
practice of this lectureship the implied inquiry has 
always been: What are the elements that music 
contains in all its phases as an art of design and 
an art of expression ? And also : How much of all 
this can be understood and appreciated by one 
who does not sing or play an instrument, and is 
unacquainted with musical theory? It has been 
surprising, as well as gratifying, to discover how 
much of critical appreciation can be developed by 
an untrained music lover under judicious leader- 
ship. This experience has not been isolated, and 
the success of others in the same undertaking has 
been such that instruction in what is commonly 
called "musical appreciation," which has recently 
become a feature in many conservatories, musical 


clubs, and private circles, is now slowly making its 
way into universities, colleges, and public schools. 
Colleges that are reluctant to establish technical 
courses in practical music, are beginning to see 
that the promotion of intelligent taste in music is 
as much within their province as a similar en- 
deavor in respect to the kindred arts of painting 
and literature. 

In the present volume I have had a mature grade 
of students, as well as teachers, in mind, for since 
it is not in any sense a text book, it has seemed best 
to me to expound music from the higher and more 
comprehensive point of view, leaving it to those 
who may do me the honor to read my words to 
apply its suggestions to their own particular needs 
and circumstances. Professional musicians will 
find nothing novel, either in fact or theory; the 
method of presentation may perhaps contain sug- 
gestive features. It is my hope that those who love 
the art and wish to extend their vision of its beauty, 
and also those who are trying, systematically or 
otherwise, to diffuse their love of music over a wider 
circle, may be helped to obtain a clearer insight 
into the problems involved, and to catch the en- 
thusiasm which has been the spring and mainstay 
of the author's labor. My satisfaction will be 
complete if I have been able to show convincingly 
that music, rightly pursued, is not only an addition 
to the gladness of life, but also a means of inward 

In the course of the past few years an ingenious 


invention has brought the teaching of musical ap- 
preciation within the reach of instructors who have 
sufficient theoretical knowledge. It has made all 
departments of musical composition in a certain 
degree accessible even to those who are not expert 
pianists. I refer to the mechanical piano players, 
which were at first looked upon with suspicion, 
and often with abhorrence by professional musi- 
cians, but which are proving themselves an agency 
of immense usefulness in diffusing good music 
among the people. Those who employ them soon 
learn that, with skilful handling, these instruments 
are capable of a large range of expression, and 
require musical feeling and intelligence for their 
proper handling. Many musicians have found that 
it is not beneath their dignity to give instruction 
in the use of these instruments for the attainment 
of a correct interpretation of master works. It 
seems also to be the general testimony that their 
wide adoption has not diminished the demand for 
musical instruction by the old established methods. 
For my own part I am convinced that without this 
invention lecture courses in the history and criti- 
cism of music would have little practical benefit, 
for it is self-evident that such courses are worth- 
less without abundant illustration. I also feel 
quite certain that whatever of value this book 
may contain is multiplied many times by the op- 
portunities for home study which the self-player 
affords to the amateur. 

Some of my readers would probably find my 


book practically more convenient if I defined some 
of the technical terms which 1 am forced to use. 
This will be the case, for example, in the division 
on counterpoint, where fugues are mentioned with- 
out explaining what fugues are. But if a begin- 
ning were made in defining terms, there would be 
no end; the book would be perverted into a text 
book and a dictionary. The few technicalities 
employed can be elucidated by means of any of 
the numerous reference books that are always at 
hand, and accommodating musicians are never far 

A small part of the substance of this volume has 
been used in a series of articles in The Musician 
for 1909, and in an address before the Music 
Teachers' National Association in 1906. This 
material has been rewritten; by far the greater 
part is entirely new, and all has been prepared 
under the guidance afforded by actual experience 
in the class room. 

Northampton, Mass., 
August, 1910. 



Chapter page 

I. The New Musical Education . . . . i 

II. The Music Lover's Need of Education . 16 

III. Definite Hearing : The- Problem of Form 39 

IV. The Beauty of Melody and Rhythm . . 69 
V. The Beauty of Harmony 89 

VI. Performance: The Art of the Pianist . 102 

VII. The Art of Song: Music and Poetry . . 142 

VIII. The Art of Song: The Technique of the 

Singer 171 

IX. The Problem of Expression: Representa- 
tive Music 192 

X. Musical History and Biography .... 234 

XI. The Music Lover and the Higher Law . 267 

Appendix 291 



Those who love to search for laws and parallels 
in art history are at times disposed to raise the dis- 
quieting question if the flood of musical energy, that 
has been so steadily rising during the past three or 
four hundred years, has not reached the high-water 
mark, or even already begun to recede. Not in 
quantity, certainly, but in quality, in sheer creative 
power. The history of art is the history of growth, 
maturity and decline — not in the productive im- 
pulse at large, for art is inseparably identified with 
human progress, but in its several epochs and de- 
partments. Greek sculpture, Gothic architecture, 
Italian Renaissance painting, Greek and English 
dramatic poetry, have each in turn exhibited the 
working of that destiny, beyond the control of men 
of genius, which decrees that every achievement of 
the human spirit shall sooner or later exhaust its 
primal impulse and sink into stagnation, or else into 
vain repetitions of forms from which all freshness of 
energy has departed. Are there any signs that the 
arresting hand of fate has likewise been laid upon 
the art of tone ? 



Music has been the latest of the arts to reach 
maturity. So wonderful have been its achieve- 
ments that, judging from analogy, it is hardly 
to be expected that the triumphs of Palestrina 
and Bach in church music, Beethoven in the sym- 
phony, Handel in the oratorio, Schubert in the 
song, Chopin in piano music, and Mozart and 
Wagner in the opera can be indefinitely repeated. 
Up to a recent period we see a progressive evolu- 
tion of forms and styles. Palestrina and his con- 
temporaries, Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, 
Wagner adopted forms that were immature and 
raised them to fulness of strength. Liszt and Ber- 
lioz saw the promise in an old idea, gave it final 
validity and contrived for it a new form and method. 
Haydn, Weber, Grieg, and the later Russians went 
back to the native music of the common people and 
found there an inspiration that issued in works of 
novel and exquisite quality. Schumann and Cho- 
pin discovered undreamed-of capacities in an instru- 
ment already old. Movements parallel to these we 
cannot discover in our day. The classic forms have 
been worked out. The promises of the East and 
North, which a generation ago stirred us with the 
hope of another musical springtime, have not yet 
been fulfilled — Tchaikovsky, Dvof &k, and Grieg 
still have no peers among their younger compatriots. 
A critic of little faith would be inclined to echo the 
sigh of Mallarme: "The flesh is sad, alas! and all 
the books are read." 

Certain phenomena, indeed, suggest the approach 


of a period of decadence. The spontaneity, the 
freshness, the directness and inevitableness of utter- 
ance which distinguish the work of the men I have 
mentioned, and indeed of the older masters in gen- 
eral, are certainly not the obvious features in the 
output of the leading composers of the present gen- 
eration. Music has become sophisticated and self- 
conscious. Complication of structure, harmonic 
strain and stress, superabundance of discord, glar- 
ing contrasts, frantic appeals to raw nervous sensa- 
tion, strive to compensate for a deficiency in vital, 
original melodic ideas. There is an extreme em- 
phasis upon virtuosity and technical elaboration, 
which is always an unfavorable symptom in art. 
Music seems to distrust its own inherent power to 
satisfy and strives to draw attention by illustrating 
pictorial or literary subjects, often with a strong 
attraction toward the extravagant and morbid. 
Composers in increasing numbers are possessed by 
the craving for critical self-analysis. They work 
with calculation. They invent theories which they 
and their disciples proclaim with tongue and pen. 
They often seem to go out in deliberate search after 
originality; they ask not, Is this worth saying? but, 
Has it been said before? In striving to expand 
their art, composers of the school of Strauss and 
Mahler appear to have their minds intent not so 
much upon the discovery of greater and nobler 
ideas as upon more gigantic means of expressing 
their ideas. Individual freedom, the supreme con- 
quest of nineteenth-century art, is after all paying 



its price. There is no longer a consciousness of 
mutual support, such as the Renaissance painters 
found in submission to a prolific common tendency. 
Even the most sincere and moderate of the later 
composers are reflective, distinctly aware of the 
method and purpose of their mental operations. 
They rarely yield in unquestioning surrender to the 
guardian genius which drives the artist whither he 
knows not. 

It would be rash to assert that these appearances 
are necessarily signs of impending decrepitude. 
They may indicate the need of a period of rest and 
recuperation, of reaction toward the simpler ideals 
of an earlier time. Perhaps, on the other hand, 
they indicate that new materials are being gathered 
for the use of strong men soon to come. The har- 
monic experiments of the Debussys and Ravels, 
like the experiments of the Impressionists with 
pigments and of the Symbolists with words, may 
prove the means of enlarging the technique for 
the service of wider expression. But at any rate 
the youthful period of music is past, and the art has 
attained full strength and stature. The only ques- 
tion is, how long will the period of maturity last? 
Will new nations — our own perhaps, an emanci- 
pated Russia, or it may be the awakening peoples 
of the Orient — applying the fully developed Euro- 
pean technique to ageless stores of emotional expe- 
rience, instil into the veins of music a new energy 
which centuries only can exhaust ? 

Those who look for a check in the progress of 


music on the creative side may easily console them- 
selves by the thought that there is no sign of abate- 
ment in the spread of its beneficent influence. 
Whether or not the works of the past are to be 
equalled or excelled, the problem of the adaptation 
of music to the spiritual and intellectual needs of 
men still waits for solution. An epoch of fuller 
knowledge and appreciation on the part of both 
musicians and the public seems plainly to be at 
hand. The waning of the productive energy would 
not be altogether a cause for lament if thereby 
the world could be turned to a deeper love and 
understanding of the treasures it already possesses. 
And the grounds for such hope are multiplying 
daily. There can be no question that the sum of 
musical intelligence is vastly greater the world over 
than it was fifty years ago. In the very midst of 
the era of artistic fecundity the epoch of scholar- 
ship and enlightenment has become established. 
The nineteenth century has seen the founding of 
many musical educational institutions, adminis- 
tered in accordance with the highest standards 
of discipline and research. Every department of 
musical history, aesthetics, science, and technical 
application has been investigated by scholars of 
Germany, France, England, and other countries 
with an exactness, a precision, and a breadth of 
vision that are not surpassed in any field of learned 
inquiry. The methods of teaching in composition 
and performance have been reconstituted on a 
basis of thoroughness which leaves nothing to be 



desired, except that constant revision and refine- 
ment of method which in music as in all education 
is an endless process. Text books and treatises 
on every conceivable musical subject increase be- 
yond all computation. The great composers are 
subjected to an exhaustive review, ranging from 
minutest textual examination to emotional inter- 
pretation. This spirit of earnestness is pervading 
all classes. The provincial music teacher has 
caught the contagion and the desire for accuracy 
and system is spreading to the musical frontiers, 
revolutionizing the whole scheme of musical in- 
struction. "Twenty-five years ago," says a recent 
English writer, "what were called 'lessons' were 
given, as they are now; but in the old days, while 
the lessons were given, nothing was taught. Music 
was not part of a serious education; it was a 
fashionable accomplishment. . . . Such a method, 
if method it may be called which was none, is now 
changed for a full, rational, and liberal study, car- 
ried on just as thoroughly, as intellectually, and 
as systematically as in any other serious branch of 
learning." Not less remarkable has been the edu- 
cational progress in music in this country. The 
advance that has been made in the last thirty years 
is little short of revolutionary. The true meas- 
ure of the nation's advancement toward the 
proud distinction of being a musical people does 
not consist in the number of operas given in New 
York in a season, nor in Paderewskrs income from 
a single concert tour, nor even in the amount of 



respectable compositions produced by native musi- 
cians, but rather in the extent to which good music 
is becoming a necessity in the life of the community. 
Accepting such a standard there is every reason 
for gratification and hope. Those who love music 
for what is best in it are rapidly increasing in 
number. The educative value of music is widely 
recognized. Performers, directors, and teachers find 
every day more encouragement for solid work. The 
musical magazines that devote themselves to 
strictly educational questions receive generous sup- 
port. Publishing houses find a large demand for 
critical works on musical subjects of every de- 
scription. Men of superior mental attainments 
are giving themselves in increasing numbers to 
the service of the higher musical propaganda. 
Through the wide world of musical dilettantism 
is felt the bracing influence of a better purpose. 
It is easy to overlook these signs of promise in view 
of the vast abundance of musical vulgarity, en- 
couraged and delighted in by multitudes both high 
and low. The cheap graphophone, the vaudeville, 
the musical comedy and the "popular" song seem 
to many observers representative of the musical 
taste of the future as well as of the present. In the 
babel of discordant sounds the voices of those who 
proclaim the gospel of sweetness and light in mu- 
sical art often sound faltering and far away. But 
over against this wide-spread satisfaction with the 
tawdry and vulgar must always be recognized that 
conspicuous trait in the American character upon 



which reformers of every sort have learned to rely 
— an intellectual unrest, a craving for new ideas, 
a respect for things of the mind, a readiness to be 
led in the direction of better individual and social 
accomplishment. The progress of music in Amer- 
ica is simply a detail of the rapid advancement in 
the appreciation of fine art, and its application in 
the adornment of public and private life, which 
is one of the most auspicious phenomena of the 
present day. Let any one read a few pages in 
the history of American music, compare the pro- 
grams of Thalberg in the 'so's with those of Pad- 
erewski in the 'c^o's, observe the results of the 
missionary labors of such men as Lowell Mason, 
Theodore Thomas, Carl Zerrahn, and Thomas 
Ryan, glance over the musical programs of our 
leading churches and compare them with the prac- 
tice of forty years ago, count the catalogues of the 
music schools and peruse their contents, note the 
increase of orchestras and choral societies, learn 
what some of our cities are doing for the musical 
welfare of the people, consider the attention that is 
given to music in the public schools and colleges, 
try to form an estimate of the number of musical 
clubs and the measure of their influence. After 
such a survey no excuse could be found for dis- 
couragement on the part of any one who is en- 
gaged in the effort to make music a living force in 
national life. 

vV As a result of these tendencies of the last few 

decades, musical education in this country has now 



entered upon a new stage of its career. Having 
reformed its methods, elevated its standards, and 
thrown wider the doors of opportunity, all in the 
interest of the special student, it is now turning its 
favor toward those who stand outside the ranks of 
those who would play, sing, or compose, the noble 
company upon whom music depends for its pat- 
ronage, the expectant majority represented by the 
dilettante, the amateur, the actual or potential mu- 
sic lover. It is shaping its plans and adjusting its 
methods with a view to the extension of taste and 
appreciation among the people. Its ultimate pur- 
pose is to promote intelligent musical enjoyment 
as a factor in popular education. 

In the history of music up to a recent time the 
cultivation of taste on the part of the public, and 
even on the part of individual pupils, has com- 
monly been left to take care of itself, as a sort 
of by-product rather than a primary intention. 
Training has been directed toward what is called 
"practical" musical instruction, viz. playing, sing- 
ing, and composing. Systematic cultivation of aes- 
thetic taste in schools and colleges by means of the 
critical study of masterworks has been confined to 
literature, perhaps because literature is a form of 
expression with which every educated person comes 
into personal relations in the natural order of his 
life. In the English-speaking countries this has es- 
pecially been the case, for the artists around whom 
patriotic pride has gathered have been, with a 
few exceptions, poets and novelists, rather than 



painters, sculptors, or composers. The conception 
of art is very largely made to conform to a literary 
standard; art, it is thought, must convey " ideas," 
by which is meant lessons, appeals, admonitions 
that can also be expressed in words; pictorial or 
musical impressions are esteemed of minor signifi- 
cance, and the inevitable inclination is to translate 
them into verbal terms, under a sort of blind no- 
tion that to do so gives them a practical instead of 
a questionable value. The result has been that the 
great majority of those who deal with music only 
as hearers have been left to gain what knowledge 
and taste they could by the casual attendance upon 
concerts and opera performances, and by reading 
musical criticisms in the newspapers. The latter 
means of enlightenment is manifestly incomplete, 
since musical reviews in the daily press are con- 
cerned with the merit and demerit of performances 
or of new compositions — that is, the application of 
general principles to concrete cases — almost never 
with the discussion of the general principles them- 
selves. Consequently the history of music shows 
us by a thousand instances — often very melan- 
choly instances — that the taste of the public has 
usually acted as a drag upon musical progress. 
Appreciation of art must always, of course, lag 
behind artistic creation; it is one aspect of that 
conservative element in the human compound 
which, as a check upon overhasty radicalism, is 
an undoubted advantage to the race. None the 
less are popular ignorance and prejudice in matters 


of reason and imagination to be deplored, and a 
movement to develop an appreciation of what is 
beautiful and profitable in art must certainly, to 
employ the threadbare phrase of the newspapers, 
"meet a long felt want." 

This movement is now well under headway and 
its promoters cannot be accused of a lack of zeal. 
A well known critic writes a book entitled "How 
to Listen to Music," parallel to those useful man- 
uals, "How to Study Pictures" and "The Appre- 
ciation of Sculpture." Another publishes a vol- 
ume in answer to the question, "What is Good 
Music?" Two others explain essentials of form 
under the title, "The Appreciation of Music." 
These works are but samples of a whole library 
aiming directly or indirectly at a similar purpose. 
The musical magazines are giving larger space to 
matters of broad musical culture as compared 
with the discussion of pedagogic subjects, and 
the literary periodicals are feeling the stress of this 
new interest. Musicians everywhere are adding 
instruction in criticism and interpretation to their 
office as practical trainers. Already specialists 
in this new field are beginning to appear. Most 
significant and promising of all, this department 
of education is planting its feet in universities, 
colleges, seminaries, and public schools. It has 
been discovered that a critical discrimination can 
be imparted in respect to music as well as in 
literature, and by analogous methods; and with 
the influence of institutions of learning thrown into 


the scale the hope for the advancement of a higher 
musical culture among the educated classes rises 
to confidence. With music becoming a national 
concern, administrators of colleges and schools find 
it a part of their duty to direct it, so far as lies 
within their power over young minds, toward the 
ends of individual and collective benefit. 

It was unquestionably their doubt in regard to 
the intellectual and disciplinary value of music 
that so long hindered school boards and college 
trustees from uniting musical instruction with their 
orthodox schemes of classroom and laboratory 
work. They said implicitly to the music teachers 
of the country: Gentlemen, show us that your 
methods are based on thoroughly scientific founda- 
tions and that the results furnish a fair parallel 
to those that are expected from the established 
school and college courses, and then we will con- 
sider the question of opening our doors. This 
the leaders of musical education have done. The 
long resistance of college and school has begun to 
yield. The question now is not whether music is 
worthy of admission to the academic precincts, 
but exactly what office shall be assigned to her 
in cooperation with the classic sisterhood of arts 
and sciences. The institutions that have taken 
music into their folds have already divided her ser- 
vice into two departments — she is used as a means 
of promoting aesthetic culture and appreciation 
among many, as well as training productive and 
executive faculties on the part of a few. 


All college studies are contained in two classes 
— vocational studies and culture studies. Music, 
by its very nature, belongs to both. As this whole 
book is devoted to music as a culture study, the 
distinction between the two classes need not be 
enlarged upon here. Neither does it seem to 
me to require argument to prove that the dissem- 
ination of good taste in art is an obligation upon 
college and school. If such argument is needed, 
there is no better summary than that of President 
Frederick Burk of the San Francisco State Normal 
School. "The world," he says, "uses vocations 
as a means of bread winning, but the world also 
uses music, art, literature, the drama just as in- 
tensely, just as essentially, just as relevantly. 
Because the world uses religion, art, music, the 
drama, civic ideals, etc., these are as legitimate and 
important goals of education as bread winning." 

This interest in the extension of musical appre- 
ciation, once taking root as a conviction, becomes 
an enthusiasm. It is by no means confined to 
university circles. Nowhere is it more beautifully 
manifested than among the noble group of obscure 
private teachers, who at stated times gather their 
little company of pupils and talk to them on the 
deeper things of their art. This is indeed a service 
that "blesseth him that gives and him that takes." 

There is no need to search for the motives that 

impel so many teachers, lecturers, and magazine 

writers to preach the pure gospel of musical art, 

but I love to think that here is shown one phase 



of the humanitarian movement of the time. In 
every earnest heart there is an instinctive desire 
to communicate to others its own experiences of 
good. And so when music is felt by one of its 
votaries to be a source of unalloyed happiness and 
purification of spirit he is fired with something 
like a missionary zeal. He catches the philan- 
thropic vibration that is abroad in the air. He 
too would be a social benefactor. He would 
bring the sweet companionship of music into the 
common life as a means of effecting a closer fel- 
lowship of minds in the higher regions of sentiment 
"We who care deeply about the arts," says the 
Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, "find ourselves 
the priesthood of an almost forgotten faith, and 
we must, I think, if we would win the people 
again, take upon ourselves the method and the 
fervor of a priesthood." It is well said, and those 
who are girding themselves for this high service of 
proselytism may well bethink themselves of their 
qualification for the mission. Consecration — yes, a 
priest must have that, together with a willingness 
to undergo resistance, indifference, and the trials 
of hope deferred. But he must likewise possess 
knowledge and wisdom — knowledge of the truth 
he teaches so that his own faith will not be shaken, 
knowledge of the needs and aptitudes of those 
among whom he labors, and the wisdom which 
enables him to adapt the means to the end, and to 
seek that end on the higher levels and not the 



Let us go on, then, to consider what are the prob- 
lems involved and the methods by which a better 
and more accurate understanding of the joyful 
mysteries of music can be imparted to those who 
desire a fuller experience of the pleasures and ben- 
efits of musical art 




The necessity of instruction in the art of hear- 
ing music can hardly be denied by one who thinks 
about the matter. It is not alone the "masses'' 
who are ignorant, and in their ignorance judge 
foolishly. A large number who call themselves 
educated must be included among those who are 
outside the kingdom of music. The scorn of the 
musical experts for the taste of those they serve 
has been, and is even now, more or less outspoken, 
and it would require a wide stretch of charity to 
say that it has not been justified. The history of 
musical patronage, so often clogging the wheels of 
achievement, is a painful one when it is observed 
how many of the noblest spirits in the realm of art 
have suffered and even perished because of public 
dulness or intolerance. There has certainly been a 
vast improvement; there is immense encourage- 
ment to be found by comparing the records of the 
present with the annals of, say, fifty or seventy- 
five years ago; then far more than now empty 
virtuosity flourished without check and with little 


rebuke. But still, if it were possible to apply tests 
among the habitues of opera houses and concert 
halls by which those could be discovered who 
perceive in music its central qualities as fine art, 
refusing to be deceived by the sensational, tem- 
porary, and meretricious, a sanguine investigator 
would probably experience sad disillusion. It is 
the conclusion of one of the foremost American mu- 
sical authorities, after a quarter of a century of 
observation, that among the frequenters of musi- 
cal performances hardly one in a thousand knows 
what good playing or singing really is. This, of 
course, is an exaggeration, thrown out in one of 
those dark hours which sometimes come to the 
musical illuminati when for a whole season, seated 
upon the Olympian heights of criticism, they 
have surveyed the delusions of the populace below. 
But it is sufficiently near the truth to pass with 
only a moderate qualification. Now if the ele- 
ments of good performance, which are really so 
simple and obvious, are unknown to the average 
concert goer, how much more certain is it that the 
criteria of merit in composition will be obscure to 
him. A high degree of intelligence in other de- 
partments of art is no guarantee of musical under- 
standing. Underlying the ignorance of musical 
principles is the fundamental ignorance that music 
has any principles that are necessary to be known 
by one who lays claim to culture. Music suffers 
like the drama from the common use of it among 
intelligent people for recreation and amusement, 


rather than as something intellectually profitable 
and demanding serious mental application as its 
right. No one can enjoy a feeling of ease in culti- 
vated society who has not at least a casual acquaint- 
ance with the great poets and romancers, and an 
impression of the work of the chief painters and 
sculptors of the world. An utter lack of acquaint- 
ance with the masters of music, however, is often 
the ground for complacency or even of pride. A 
recent work on aesthetics by a well-known univer- 
sity professor contains a blunder on a point of 
music which would certainly not have been par- 
alleled if a matter connected with literature or 
any other department of art had been in question. 
Bruneau tells us that it was quite characteristic 
of the taste of the period that when Rossini's 
"Otello" was produced in Paris (the first per- 
formance was in 182 1), nobody objected to the 
bacchic joy of the songs, the delirious gayety of the 
orchestra, the nonsense of the vocalises applied 
during three acts to the terrible drama of hatred 
and love. Even literary men, like Lamartine, de 
Musset, and Stendhal, who knew and admired 
Shakespeare, were fired with enthusiasm at the 
representations of this parody of the venerable 
masterpiece. Rossini's "Otello" is long dead and 
no works of its kind are likely to appear again, 
but the literati can hardly take credit to themselves 
for the prevalence of a taste which prefers the 
"Otello" of Verdi to its predecessor. 

When it comes to a comprehension of music as 


a fine art a large proportion of the literary class 
are represented either by Dr. Johnson or by Bos- 
well. When the great lexicographer was seventy- 
one years of age he chanced one day to hear some 
funeral music, and remarked that it was the first 
time that he had ever been affected by musical 
sounds. Boswell was more susceptible. "I told 
him," said the faithful scribe on another occasion, 
"that music affected me to such a degree as often 
to agitate my nerves painfully, producing in my 
mind alternate sensations of painful dejection, so 
that I was ready to shed tears; or of daring reso- 
lution, so that I was inclined to rush into the 
thickest part of the battle." "Sir," said Johnson, 
"I should never hear it if it made me such a fool." 
Between Johnson's indifference and BoswelPs 
sentimental excitability the wise man would, per- 
haps, find little to choose. The true nature of 
music's virtue probably had never dawned upon 
either of them. Boswell, indeed, possessed a 
source of pleasure unknown to his friend, but his 
nervous explosions would hardly leave any very 
valuable deposit behind them. If he described his 
mental condition accurately the effect of music upon 
him was of the most indefinite and transient char- 
acter. And so it is upon the minds of a vast 
number of people who call themselves musical, and 
give concerts and operas their regular attendance. 
The impression they receive is hardly more dis- 
tinct than that of a succession of perfumes; the 
subsequent memory is that of something exhila- 


rating but rague, like a last week's display of fire- 
works. Outside of the hall or theatre they give no 
study to the scientific principles of musical art or 
its psychologic reactions, and consequently their 
judgments, if that term can properly be applied, 
are unconsidered and usually perverse, since they 
are touched off by the mere nerve stimulation of 
the instant. Such indulgences in pleasant sound 
have, indeed, a value to those who come jaded with 
prosaic toil; like coolness after summer heat they 
bring repose and refreshment and are vastly to be 
preferred to many of the fashionable distractions 
of the hour. But to one who knows the benefits 
which music can impart — that its tonic proper- 
ties have it in them to restore the worn spirit and 
inform and enrich the mind at the same time — 
there comes often a feeling of pain that the greater 
good should not be enjoyed at the same time with 
the lesser. 

Among those who receive music in a general 
way there is a class of minds, very serious and 
philosophical, to whom the very vagueness of these 
diffused impressions seems the condition of the 
most inspiring communications. These thinkers, 
mystical in temperament and introspective in habit, 
discern in music a spiritual suggestion more elo- 
quent than speech, whose very indefiniteness and 
unreality impart to it a sublimated value. In 
many such cases the effect upon the imagination 
seems in inverse ratio to the amount of artistic con- 
trivance involved in the music; the mere physical 


sensation of tone even with slight dynamic fluctua- 
tions is sufficient to produce powerful emotional 
reaction. To Thoreau any sound that could be 
called musical disturbed his thought with a sense 
of something ineffable. A music box is tinkling 
near by, and he writes in his Journal: "I feel a 
sad cheer when I hear those lofty strains, because 
there must be something in me as lofty that hears." 
Again he confesses: "I hear one thrumming a gui- 
tar below stairs. It reminds me of moments that I 
have lived. What a comment upon our life is the 
least strain of music! It lifts me above the mire 
and dust of the universe. . . . Ninety-nine one- 
hundredths of our lives we are mere hedgers and 
ditchers, but from time to time we meet with re- 
minders of our destiny. We hear the kindred vi- 
brations, music! and we put our dormant feelers 
into the limits of the universe. We attain to wis- 
dom that passeth understanding." Two days 
later he makes this entry: "What is there in 
music that it should so stir our deeps? Suppose 
I try to describe faithfully the prospect which a 
strain of music exhibits to me. The field of my 
life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, 
with no death nor disappointment at the end of it 
All meanness and trivialness disappear." 

To this man who had kept his sensibilities so 
delicate and pure, so responsive to every touch of 
nature, the mere impact of tone upon the ear was 
equivalent to an ecstasy. The " telegraph harp" 
contained the essence of symphonies and ora- 


torios and made them superfluous. Reading these 
testimonies of Thoreau we can in a measure under- 
stand how to the Greek philosophers the simplest 
unharmonized strains contributed to ethical and 
emotional culture, and thus had a place in the 
scheme of education. 

To a philosophic poet like Browning, who united 
the gift of intuitive vision with a rare power of re- 
flective analysis, the sounds of music excite con- 
jecture over the ultimate cause of that rapture 
which no other art can arouse in equal measure. 
In "Parleyings" with Charles Avison, Browning 
speaks what is thus far the last word in occult 
musical interpretation. Music reveals the Soul — 
the sum of those mysterious faculties that compose 
the subconscious personality; Mind works con- 
sciously, builds up knowledge with the facts of ex- 
perience, as an engineer builds a bridge over a 
gulf, laying stone upon stone. Beneath rolls some- 
thing that Mind may hide but not tame — "Soul, 
the unsounded sea," whose "lift of surge" brings 
feeling from out the depths which Mind cannot 
master. Mind's processes are easy to describe; 

"But Soul's sea — drawn whence, 
Fed how, forced whither, — by what evidence 
Of ebb and flow, that's felt beneath the tread, 
Soul has its course 'neath Mind's work overhead, — 
Who tells of, tracks to source the founts of Soul? 

"To match and mate 
Feeling with knowledge, — make as manifest 



Soul's work as Mind's work, turbulence as rest, 
Hates, loves, joys, woes, hopes, fears that rise and 

Ceaselessly. . . . 

"To strike all this life dead, 
Run mercury into a mould like lead, 
And henceforth have the plain result to show — 
How we Feel hard and fast as what we Know — 
This were the prize and is the puzzle! — which 
Music essays to solve." 

Music comes nearest to realizing the desire of 
all art, to make the work of the Soul as manifest 
as the work of the Mind; she seems about to give 
momentary feeling permanence, to unveil our hid- 
den impulses and motives; but the very essence of 
her nature, her fluidity and quick vanishing into 
the impalpable inane, forbids. 

"Could music rescue thus from Soul's profound, 
Give Feeling immortality by sound, 
Then were she queenliest of arts. Alas — 
As well expect the rainbow not to pass." 

Lafcadio Hearn, convinced of the Buddhist doc- 
trine of metempsychosis, is drawn by music into 
the illimitable ocean of Being composed of billions 
of pre-natal memories. "To every ripple of mel- 
ody, to every billow of harmony, there answers 
within, out of the Sea of Death and Birth, some 
eddying immeasurable of ancient pleasure and 
pain. Pleasure and pain: they commingle always 
in great music; and therefore it is that music can 


move us more profoundly than any other voice 
can do. . . . It is only the sum of the pains and 
joys of past lives innumerable that makes for us, 
through memory organic, the ecstasy of music. 
All the gladness and the grief of dead generations 
come back to haunt us in countless forms of har- 
mony and melody." 

Such experiences, which are transmuted into po- 
etry by men like Thoreau, Browning, and Hearn, 
are not to be lightly spoken of. They stir the 
emotions to depths which no other excitation can 
reach. They are akin to religious ecstasies, and it 
is in recognition of certain correspondences in our 
nature that the church has always welcomed the 
aid of music in its efforts to draw the devotee into 
a charmed circle from which earthly associations 
shrink away. The practical musician, howeyer, 
has accustomed himself to take the matter more 
coolly. While not denying that these mystical 
transports are legitimate and the source of a joy 
that is at the same time elevating and purifying, 
still he distrusts them and would never admit 
that the aim of musical study is to make one more 
susceptible to them. It is evident that if musical 
enjoyment began and ended with emotional stimu- 
lation of this kind the critical study of music 
would be merely the study of psychologic reac- 
tions, and not at all a study of laws and methods 
by virtue of which music becomes a fine art based 
on scientific principles and appealing to the intel- 
lect as well as to the sense. There would be no 


guarantee of any objective standard of merit or de- 
merit; the strumming of a guitar which stirred 
such high contemplations in Thoreau, if measured 
by its effects alone, might outbalance in his mind 
an orchestra playing the Andante from Schubert's 
"Unfinished" symphony. In the case of weaker 
minds, those endowed with an excess of sensibility 
over judgment, music is often the parent of effem- 
inate sentimentalities which, if habitually in- 
dulged, produce those relaxing results of which 
moralists complain. Where the purely subjective 
interpretation has free sway, minds less robust 
than those of Thoreau and Browning may receive 
less noble suggestions. It is in vain to search in 
sudden excitements, which may move in exactly 
contrary directions at different times of the day or 
with changing conditions in the nervous system, 
for any guidance that may enable the hearer to 
distinguish good music from bad. Neither do they 
involve a definite conception of a musical com- 
position as a concrete work of art. The delight of 
the moment at the train of associated ideas may 
be recalled in faded colors, but no memory of a 
thing in itself beautiful in design and execution. 

Just here a qualification must be made, lest 
I be misunderstood and be classed among the 
pedants. The raptures such as Milton felt, when 
the floods of glorious tone dissolved him into ecsta- 
sies and brought all heaven before his eyes, not only 
afford us some of the happiest moments of our 
existence, but when rightly adjusted to our other 
2 5 


experiences may become a source of moral refresh- 
ment and strength. There is in music preemi- 
nently a beauty of spiritual intimation, of mysterious 
goings to and fro in the dim passages of memories 
and hopes, of mirth and tears, of associations in- 
definable but allied to what we feel to be the best 
there is in us. A poet like Lafcadio Hearn, who 
catches in music a reverberation of the joys and 
sorrows of all mankind, receives a truer communi- 
cation than the bookish technician who perceives 
nothing but skilful devices in theme development, 
counterpoint, or orchestration. I would not dis- 
parage those delights that come with unformed 
sound (unformed, I mean, so far as the listener is 
aware) any more than I would disown the joy in the 
murmur of winds and waves and the songs of happy 
birds. We accept them as tokens of health in the 
universe, and it is a sign of health in ourselves that 
we exult in them. Doubtless all pure sounds 
have a significance in our soul life which philosophy 
has not yet explained. So in music the passionate 
response of the heart to beauty is the ultimate thing, 
and in these moments of abandonment learned 
science and theory may well be left behind. But 
neither of the two opposed methods of reception — 
the half-hypnotized absorption and the cold critical 
analysis — is sufficient alone. Only one who is ca- 
pable of both is competent to receive all that music 
has to give. Knowledge and feeling must unite. 
At the moment of hearing, feeling seems to have it 
all her own way, but it is the antecedent knowledge 


that directs feeling so that she may not go astray 
and waste herself- on what is unworthy. Reason 
must hold the helm. Music, like all fine art, 
demands an active exercise of the will, as well as 
a sensitiveness to physical elements and a vague 
response to suggestion. 

The first business of a lover of art is to sharpen 
his faculties of perception. The eye and the ear 
must be trained to quick discriminations, and these 
discriminations must be controlled by preliminary 
knowledge of the function and method of the art 
in question, in view of the character and limitation 
of its material and the range of effect permitted 
by its subject matter. The beauties to which the 
untrained mind is most alive are those of physical 
sensation and associative suggestion; those which 
it fails to observe lie in form, proportion, design, 
mutual adaptation of details to the central purpose 
—that is, beauties of workmanship. The disci- 
pline that one must undergo in order to appre- 
ciate fine art is largely an exercise of eye and ear, 
reenforced by the power of coordination, in order 
that simple sensations may group themselves into 
images which are the media or the garments of 

Never in art can "thought" and "form" be 
severed; least of all in music. The artist's vision 
becomes clear to himself only as he laboriously puts 
it into form, and his intention becomes clear to us 
also in the extent to which we are able to follow his 
processes. A work of art possesses an objective 


as well as a subjective value. It stirs the imagi- 
nation and opens depths of human emotion not 
sounded before; but it also offers delight to the 
physical eye or the physical ear, and likewise 
gratifies the intellect when there is seen a masterly 
adaptation of means to ends. The artist is a crafts- 
man as well as a seer. The original conception 
comes to his mind as a germ, not as a complete 
organism. He devotes all his ability to the de- 
liberate shaping of his materials, and invents 
patterns that are in themselves beautiful apart 
from any associated meaning that may be stated 
in words. There is a decorative beauty in every 
art-work as well as a beauty of sentiment. From 
a purely ornamental design, such as a Rookwood 
vase or an architectural moulding, to a sonnet of 
Wordsworth or Rembrandt's etching of the Prodi- 
gal Son, where the technical element seems lost 
in the nobility of the thought, there is every degree 
of emphasis upon the decorative factor. The 
artist never forgets this, and without an appre- 
ciation on our part of the balance of rhythmic 
phrase and juxtaposition of euphonious words, or 
the artful arrangement of lines and groups and 
masses, the artist's purpose, so far as we are con- 
cerned, is not achieved. 

This decorative feature — using the term in its 
largest sense — marks out one of the paths along 
which the learner's study must be persistently 
directed. If his senses are not trained to discern 
the manifold beauties that are contained in design 


and technical manipulation, his judgments will 
have no secure basis and the very essential of 
aesthetic appreciation will elude his grasp. His 
perception of moral values may be exquisitely re- 
fined, his heart may beat sympathetically to many 
notes of rapture or pain, and still a whole world of 
loveliness be closed to him. With attention fixed 
only upon subject and sentiment, he would perhaps 
be content with ignorant and awkward execution 
if the theme appealed to his religious, patriotic, or 
domestic affections. There are, of course, possi- 
ble deficiencies on the other side, for which no 
delicacy of perception, no learning in technique, 
can compensate. The connoisseur who sees noth- 
ing in Millet's "Sower" but a superb representa- 
tion of bodily action is to be pitied for his narrow- 
ness of mental vision. When Whistler labelled his 
portrait of his mother an "arrangement in black 
and gray," on the ground that no one would be 
interested in the sitter as an individual, but that a 
skilful contrast of tones was all that an instructed 
lover of art ought to care for in such a composition, 
he carried his pet theory to an extreme where those 
who feel art most deeply are reluctant to follow. 
All this may be admitted, and still the fact remains 
that the decorative value in art is the feature in 
which the great majority even of intelligent people 
most need to be instructed. The force and sub- 
tlety of Whistler's portrait are unquestionably 
affected by the simplicity of the scheme of lines 
and the arrangement of the sombre shades. The 


drawing and composition of Raphael, the chiaros- 
curo of Rembrandt, the atmosphere of Corot are 
the very life of the works of these men; they are 
ends as well as means; without them there would 
be no individuality, no personal communication. 
They are elements which, if they could be com- 
pletely severed from subject, would still be worthy 
artistic aims. The mutilated fragment known as 
the "Torso Belvedere," from which all definite 
expression of character has departed with the loss 
of head and limbs, was nevertheless the object of 
the loving study of Michelangelo. 

Say what we may in regard to ideas, emotion, 
the infusion of personality as the aim and justifi- 
cation of art, still we must not lose sight of the 
fact that the supreme artists of the world — the 
Shakespeares, the Michelangelos, the Beethovens — 
were consummate masters of technique, and only 
through sovereign technique could they impart 
their thought and realize their visions. There is 
no more common error than to suppose that these 
men and others of the same rank were superior 
as artists because they felt more and deeper than 
other men. The difference is not in feeling but in 
the ability to incorporate feeling in artistic form. 
It is absurd to suppose that Winslow Homer felt 
the appalling strength and infinite beauty of the 
sea more than other painters who failed in the 
attempt to render them. The "mute inglorious 
Milton" of Gray never existed. If one is a Mil- 
ton he will not be mute. Says Ruskin: "Weak 


painters, who have never learned their business, 
continually come to me crying out, 'Look at this 
picture of mine; it must be good, I had such a 
lovely motive. I have put my whole heart into 
it, and taken years to think over its treatment' 
Well, the only answer for these people is, 'Sir, 
you cannot think over anything in any number of 
years — you haven't the head to do it; and though 
you had fine motives, strong enough to make you 
burn yourself in a slow fire, if only first you could 
paint a picture, you can't paint one, nor half an 
inch of one; you haven't the hand to do it.' " 

It is indeed the hand, as well as the head and 
the heart, that makes the artist, and the knowledge 
of the part played by the hand is indispensable to 
one who aspires to become a connoisseur. The 
mysteries of craftsmanship are not intuitively dis- 
cerned, and the uninitiated never perceive them. 
Appreciation is not passive, like a simple sensation; 
and it is the result of effort and judicious training. 
If a casual lover of pictures were to walk through 
an art gallery with Mr. Edwin Blashfield or Mr. 
Lorado Taft he would soon discover that his own 
world of aesthetic experience was a very limited 
affair compared with that of his companion. The 
difference is well illustrated by a passage in Mr. 
Kenyon Cox's essay on Rodin in his Painters and 
Sculptors. He is speaking of the statue called 
"The Danaid," and describes it as "a single 
female figure about half the size of life, fallen for- 
ward in an odd, half-crouching attitude expressive 
3 1 


of utter despair or of extreme physical lassitude." 
The average gallery habitue, interested in whatever 
belongs to life but ignorant of the "points" of good 
sculpture, would be attracted by the title, would 
inquire concerning the story of the Danaids, and if 
a person of sensibility would be touched by the 
suggestion of pathos, and would perhaps notice 
certain graces of proportion which the figure 
offered to his sight. But now, as Mr. Cox pro- 
ceeds, notice what a trained critic sees in this 
statue: "Everything is largely done, with pro- 
found knowledge, the result of thousands of pre- 
vious observations, and the significance of every 
quarter-inch of surface is amazing. Such discrimi- 
nation of hard and soft, of bone and muscle and 
flesh and skin, such sense of stress and tension 
where the tissues are tightly drawn over the frame- 
work beneath, such sense of weight where they 
drag away from it — all this is beyond description 
as it is beyond praise. And it is all done with ad- 
mirable reticence, without the slightest insistence 
or exaggeration, and with such a feeling for the 
nature of the material employed that the marble 
seems caressed into breathing beauty, its delicate 
bosses and hollows so faintly accented that the eye 
alone is hardly adequate to their perception and the 
finger-tips fairly tingle with the desire of touch." 
Here is the report of a connoisseur who has ac- 
quired the ability to distinguish beauties that lie 
in the material and the methods of sculpture, 
beauties that would never be seen by an observer 


whose culture was general and not special. Sim- 
ilar lessons may be drawn from the testimony of 
those who have made music a life study. Their ad- 
vantage lies primarily in the fact that, by reason of 
their knowledge of the nature of musical structure 
and the laws of performance, their minds are set at 
such a focus that the qualities of the composition 
make a clear and logical impression. The critic 
applies the standards that are pertinent to the case; 
he grasps the details in proper order and sees how 
they contribute to fulfil the composer's structural 
design and emotional conception. His hearing has 
become discriminative through his experience with 
works and principles; he knows what to look for, 
and can grasp relationships as well as perceive 
details. His memory has acquired possession of 
many masterpieces which he is able to compare 
with one another, and also to use as touchstones 
in the appraisal of other claimants upon his favor. 
Out of this discipline comes judgment, and finally 
taste with its exhaustless resources of pleasure. 

A frequent objection to technical study rests upon 
the fact that increase of knowledge in matters of art 
brings with it certain penalties. In ascending from 
the plane of lower to that of higher pleasures one 
seems doomed to leave behind certain naive en- 
joyments that arise from a frank and childlike ac- 
ceptance of everything that gives agreeable stimu- 
lation to the organs of sight and hearing. As one 
leaves the condition of paradisaical innocence and 
approaches critical enlightenment one becomes 


aware of evil as well as of good; there are shocks 
of disappointed expectation, followed by sourness 
and asperity instead of that joy and peace which 
seem the just recompense of one who goes in quest 
of beauty. The professional critic is not envied 
by the art loving public. His calling is supposed 
to promote an excessive irritability of nerve, an 
unhealthy tendency to ignore the good and mag- 
nify the evil, a habit of fault finding until fault 
finding becomes a pleasure. No honest critic will 
admit the justice of such an imputation, yet even 
he sometimes questions if the pains do not over- 
balance the rewards. Even so magnanimous a 
spirit as Mr. E. A. Baughan has sometimes at the 
end of a season entertained the disquieting suspi- 
cion that, after all, ignorance is really bliss and 
that wisdom may sometimes run to the excess that 
verges upon folly. But the critic so minded does 
not know his own blessedness. He has sources of 
satisfaction of which the Philistine who " knows 
nothing about art but knows what he likes" has 
very little conception. The critic enjoys more than 
the other because he sees and hears more, and 
is better prepared to grasp the real significance of 
what he sees and hears. His occasional distress is 
only the reverse side of his enjoyment. The cheap 
popular march or sentimental ballad irritates him 
just because an etude by Chopin or a song by Grieg 
makes him so happy. There is even a not ignoble 
pleasure in his very distaste, because there cannot 
be a revolt against stupidity and vulgarity without 


comparison, and comparison involves even at the 
moment an under-consciousness of merit elsewhere. 
There are critics and critics. The true critic is 
one who sees below the surface of things, distin- 
guishes the essentials from the accidents, the spirit 
within the form, and whose nature is so sympa- 
thetically attuned to that of the artist that he un- 
derstands him and finds delight in assisting the 
understanding of others. Swinburne had the truth 
of the matter in him when he said: "I have never 
been able to see what should attract men to the 
profession of criticism but the noble pleasure of 
praising.' ' As seer, hierophant, and interpreter the 
critic performs an almost priestlike task. When 
criticism is inspired by the highest purpose, in 
which duty blends with privilege, one may even 
say of it, as has been said of love — "all other 
pleasures are not worth its pains.' ' 

The serious amateur who in the hearing of 
music feels a vague stirring as in the presence of 
something which itself is vague, desires more of 
the critic's discriminating power. He has heard 
that music is not only an art of expression but is 
also an art of form. It enters the soul through 
many channels. Hearing — as we use the term in 
respect to a piece of music — is a complex process. 
In the first place there is the physical consciousness 
of sounds of a particular pitch, timbre, and in- 
tensity. We may hear them as we hear the warble 
of a bird, the mutter of distant thunder, the sigh 
of the wind; no intellectual reaction need be 


involved, for these sounds may be unrelated and 
unorganized. Aside from possible chance associa- 
tions, which one person may have and another 
may not, they are mere sense impressions which 
act in the same way upon people of higher and 
lower grades of culture. In the next stage, how- 
ever, there are more refined and intricate processes 
involved. The tones are no longer detached and 
isolated, but are combined with one another by 
an act of will on the part of the composer. This 
coalescence into logical design, being an intellectual 
operation, demands an intellectual operation for 
its apprehension. The hearer perceives plan, sys- 
tem, order, unified variety. A third stage also 
appears: each tone or phrase is an emotional cen- 
tre. The successions and combinations of tones 
are charged with a potency which their qualities 
as agreeable sensation and ingenious artifice can- 
not explain. There is a stirring of the spirit to 
unknown depths, the final cause of which eludes 
analysis, but is felt to have its roots where every 
active impulse toward beauty has its birth. This 
exaltation and purging of the soul by harmony is 
doubtless music's highest sanction. There is an 
experience here for which no other art furnishes 
an equivalent. Music's very mystery and in- 
tangibility is the essential condition of much of its 
peculiar power. Nevertheless an earnest mind 
cannot be satisfied with a pleasure, however pure 
and elevating, that quickly dissolves, leaving no 
residue to be worked over by the memory. If 



uninitiated he yet believes that there must be a 
host of beauties in the works of the masters which he 
does not perceive. With all his delight in music 
he confesses that he has no firm standard of judg- 
ment, that he makes little or no progress in the 
appreciation of great music because he is at the 
mercy of his temperament, his habitudes, his preju- 
dices, and his mental and physical condition at the 
moment. He would make his musical experiences 
a means of genuine intellectual gain, developing a 
power of enjoyment that is active not passive, one 
that strengthens his faculties of perception and 
discrimination by means of an exercise that he can 
supervise and direct to satisfying ends. 

The amateur, too long neglected, is beginning to 
understand his needs and make them known, and 
I have already shown that his Macedonian cry is 
reaching attentive ears. He has no wish to become 
a brilliant player or vocalist, or if he has, there is 
no place in his life for the long preparatory drudg- 
ery. Neither would he be reconciled to courses in 
harmony and counterpoint. But he does wish to 
cultivate his ear and his powers of judgment, to 
know what to listen for, to hear what musicians 
hear in a musical performance, to learn in what 
consist the factors that make good music, to know 
what his musical friends are talking about when 
they discuss the new men and the new movements, 
to bring Beethoven and Wagner and Chopin into 
the circle of his familiars along with Raphael and 
Rembrandt, Shakespeare and Milton, Thackeray 


and Tennyson, — in a word he wishes to make music 
also, along with books and pictures and all beau- 
tiful things, a means of enriching his inward life. 
In the succeeding chapters I have undertaken to 
show what music as a fine art has to offer to the 
amateur who begins with nothing but the most ru- 
dimentary knowledge of the formal principles and 
psychologic conditions of art in general. An ordi- 
nary sensitiveness to musical impressions is all that 
is required for admission to the imaginary class that 
I proceed to form. Let no one misunderstand my 
purpose, and suppose that I attach supreme value 
to technicalities because I give so large a space to 
them. I do so simply because a casual acquaint- 
ance with technical principles and methods is nec- 
essary as a means to the higher end, and because 
that is the knowledge in which the amateur is most 
deficient. His little learning will not be to him a 
dangerous thing; he is not to be refused a taste be- 
cause he cannot drink deep at the Pierian springs. 
He need not fear that he will lose any of the fine 
intoxication that was his before. He will no longer 
say that he cannot see the forest for the trees — he 
will see trees and forest both. He will learn to 
adjust his mind so that the beauties of detail will 
reach him as well as the glory of the whole. " The 
laboratories," says a French writer, "are crowded 
with retorts, flowers and leaves are dissected under 
the microscope. But nothing of all this has spoiled 
the graces of the springtime or the splendors of 
setting suns." 




In the discussions that are to follow I shall have 
in mind that class of music lovers known as ama- 
teurs or dilettanti, meaning thereby those who do 
not practice music as a profession, and have little or 
no expert knowledge. I am thinking of genuine 
music lovers, the people who compose the serious 
part of opera and concert audiences, who encour- 
age music in the home and in society, who like to 
discuss music and wish to make it more familiar. 
This enlarged appreciation, I assume, is to be 
gained chiefly by the ear, for the music lovers for 
whom this book is written are not required to be 
masters of the art of reading music. Books and 
musical reviews in the daily, weekly, and monthly 
press they will find it for their interest to consult 
frequently, and some of the best books on dif- 
ferent branches of the subject will be specified. 
Lectures on music they will sometimes attend. In 
fact, I shall have pretty constantly in my mind the 
worthy band of lecturers whose work in colleges, 
schools, clubs and other private circles has recently 
become an important item in our national educa- 


tional machinery. In this department of musical 
instruction traditions are still to be established, for 
there are as many methods as there are teachers, 
and many of these methods are crude and incom- 
plete. My purpose is partly to indicate my own 
conception of the nature and scope of the subject 
of musical criticism — the topics involved and their 
mutual relations, the action of musical works upon 
the ear and mind of the listener, the aesthetic prin- 
ciples concerned, and the various means by which 
musical enjoyment may be increased and rational 
judgment ensured. I shall consider the needs of 
the learner, the preparation of the teacher (so far 
as the teacher is allowed to appear within the hori- 
zon of this volume) and the materials available for 
both. No exact system of study is proposed, cer- 
tainly not a complete one. Many things that such 
a book might properly contain will probably be 
omitted, either intentionally or inadvertently. I 
wish to be as discursive as my whim dictates. 
My temperament is that of an explorer rather 
than that of a surveyor, and an explorer is one 
who leaves much to be sought out by the next 
comer. Suggestion rather than an organized pro- 
gram is the writer's best service in such a case as 
this; his best hope that he may be able to per- 
suade others to enter a fresh field by confirming 
out of his own discoveries the bright promise of its 

In its simplest terms the question resolves itself 
into this: What and how must one hear in listening 


to music ? In respect to the what a listener is in 
quite a different situation from that involved in the 
presence of any other art. A musical composition 
exists only as it is performed; it does not really 
live until it has known a second birth. Moreover, 
music is movement; it is contained in time and 
not in space. We may go to an art gallery and 
study a picture or a statue at leisure; we are not 
compelled to form a judgment until we have de- 
liberately examined all the details and put them 
together in our consciousness. In the case of a 
literary work the reader may be as deliberate as 
the picture gazer. The obscurities of Browning or 
Henry James simply require closer attention and 
slower progress than the lucid phrases of Tennyson 
or Hardy; the reader need not go on until he has 
understood them. But the musical piece passes as 
on the wings of the wind; we cannot arrest it for 
the sake of a reinspection. Moreover music is har- 
mony as well as rhythmic melody; in the simplest 
song with piano accompaniment there are several 
parts to follow at the same time, while in a sym- 
phony, or still more in an opera or oratorio, the 
abundance and complexity of simultaneous ele- 
ments not only presuppose vast powers of ana- 
lytic perception on the part of the human ear, but 
also seem determined to baffle them. The weak- 
ness of music in the opinion of many philosophers 
— if it be a weakness — consists not so much in 
the character of its impressions as in the difficulty 
on the part of the hearer of getting any clear 


impressions at all. Even the trained musician feels 
this whenever he goes to a concert. The musical 
piece is volatile, intangible, evasive; it comes out 
of silence and vanishes into the unknown again. 
We are tantalized by this flying tumult of sweet 
sounds. We suspect that in the flood of harmony 
there are numberless beauties that escape us. We 
long to put forth some faculty of seizure that may 
arrest this phantom and hold it until it gives up 
all its secrets. If the educated musician is often 
thus perplexed it is not strange that the untaught 
amateur, catching a random charm here and an- 
other there, despairs of getting a definite image 
and yields to the vague excitement of nerve stimu- 
lation, or perhaps to the nobler, but no less tran- 
sient absorption in mystical imaginings, and tries 
to be content therewith. 

It is evident that these impediments can be 
overcome only by the development of some faculty 
which will enable the hearer to apprehend the 
design of a musical work and perceive some logical 
necessity in its progress. If the different factors 
combine into an artistic whole which gives each 
of them its raison d'etre — if the composer's pur- 
pose is fully revealed only when the work is grasped 
entire, as a unity — then it is plain that the cas- 
ual, disconnected impressions of the average non- 
musician do not give him the satisfaction which 
the work is intended to afford. His attention must 
be directed toward elements and qualities which 
he has not hitherto perceived. An amount of 


technical knowledge must be acquired that is at 
least sufficient to enable him to discover what the 
work actually contains and the real significance of 
each part in the total effect. These factors, not 
being intuitively discerned, require demonstra- 
tion, and the novice in matters of musical science 
gladly accepts the guidance of the expert. 

One who undertakes to assist musically untrained 
people to a comprehension of the works of the great 
composers, finds it necessary to ask: What is the 
actual musical experience of one who has no tech- 
nical knowledge of the art? What does one who 
knows nothing of musical science or the laws of 
musical expression actually get out of a concert, 
recital, or opera? What is the difference in re- 
spect to perception and mental reaction between 
the untaught music lover and the expert critic? 
It is not easy to find an answer to these questions. 
The musician may call upon his imagination for a 
reply, but there is not much satisfaction in this, 
for it is extremely difficult for him to project him- 
self into the mental state of one who has formed 
none of the habits that have become a second 
nature to one who has spent years in familiar asso- 
ciation with the practical side of the art. These 
two individuals inhabit different worlds. Features 
that are instantly perceived and appraised by the 
one are overlooked by the other. The adept can- 
not recall his days of musical innocence, and so he 
asks for testimony from his non-musical brother, 
since instruction presupposes some knowledge of 


the mental status of the pupil. Such information, 
however, the latter finds it very difficult to give, for 
how can one furnish a clear account of impres- 
sions which are in their very nature unclear and 
elusive ? 

Certain aspects of the non-musician's musical ex- 
perience will always be a mystery to an investigator 
as well as to the subject himself. One very radi- 
cal distinction, however, is plain, and that is to be 
found in the fact that the musician's hearing of 
music is definite, while that of the casual hearer 
is indefinite. The latter is aware of a number of 
simple perceptions which may be very delightful 
even in isolation, but they do not coalesce in his 
consciousness into the orderly groups and divisions 
which, in their relations of balance, contrast, and 
fulfilment, make up a complete work of art. Fur- 
thermore, not being conversant with the principles 
of musical organization, he cannot be in that atti- 
tude of intelligent expectation which the musician, 
by reason of his specialized knowledge, is able to 
assume. Hence he fails to notice a great many 
sounds which the musician perceives because he is 
more or less awake to their necessity in the tonal 
scheme. The musician's perception of sounds is 
reinforced by his acquaintance with the procedure 
of the art of composition, and he is thus able to hear 
each phrase as a preparation for that which is to 
come; his mind is alert, as if about to spring ahead 
of the actual tones and anticipate their direction, 
or at least he can connect each passage with what 


fie has already heard and construct in his mind 
more or less extensive divisions of the work as he 
goes along. No musician can do this to such a 
degree as to seize every detail of a large and intri- 
cate composition at the first hearing; there is a 
certain consolation to the amateur in reading the 
cautious, non-committal estimates of the profes- 
sional critics on the morning after a first perform- 
ance of a new symphony. But the critic's train- 
ing enables him to direct his mind along certain 
legalized thoroughfares and gather details together 
into related groups, while to one who listens with- 
out method the sounds come in heterogeneous 
confusion, distinguished, if distinguished at all, 
only in gleams and flashes playing upon a current 
of vague sonority. 

The primary task of the ambitious music lover, 
therefore, will be to learn some of the secrets of 
musical construction, in order that his hearing 
may take on that quality of definiteness which 
lies at the basis of a true musical appreciation. 
"Music," says Edmund Gurney, "may be de- 
scribed as having a definite or indefinite character 
according as the individuality of what is pre- 
sented is or is not perceived; according as the 
person does or does not grasp something which 
can be recognized as itself and nothing else when 
the presentation is repeated, and can be reproduced 
in memory, not as the mere knowledge of a past 
fact, but with some vital realization of the actual 
experience. It is, indeed, obviously natural that 


any matter presented to the higher senses should 
exhibit definite aesthetic character in proportion 
to the degree in which striking form is perceived 
in it. The mind naturally assimilates and makes 
completely its own that on which it has brought 
its own activity to bear, and activity of mind de- 
mands an order of some kind in the matter on which 
it works." 

On this plain psychologic principle the learner 
must take his stand. His first business is to de- 
velop that faculty which seeks for a systematic 
connection among audible phenomena. Without 
design and order — parts possessing a value not 
in themselves alone but in their contribution to 
the development of the whole — there is no work 
of art. "A book," says Alphonse Daudet (and he 
would have used the same expression for any art- 
work)"— a book is an organism; if it has not its 
organs in place it dies, and its corpse is a scandal." 
As the sounds enter the listener's brain he must 
strive to organize them there as the composer 
organized their symbols, to build up a tonal struct- 
ure in his consciousness, a structure distinct, sym- 
metrical, self-supporting — not only that the whole 
beauty of the work may be manifest, but also that 
its presence may remain established in the memory 
as a secure possession. Every musician is aware 
f hat music is not a random string of vivid sensa- 
tions passing over like the clouds which leave no 
wake. To his mind each phrase is a consequence 
of that which went before and the necessary 

4 6 


antecedent of that which follows. Just as each 
word in a line of poetry is by itself alone meaning- 
less, so it is only in their connections and relations 
that sounds acquire aesthetic value. A single tone 
may be delightful in its physical effect, but apart 
from its fellows it has no expression, no character. 1 
The musician's pleasure comes from an active 
exercise of the attention directed by anticipation 
and sustained by memory. He enjoys the evi- 
dences of skill, of difficulties overcome, of the 
triumph of the composer or performer over his 
defiant material, the beauty that lies in reasoned 
design, development, and proportion. The igno- 
rant hearer, on the other hand, is the sport of un- 
known forces. The sounds at any moment drive 
out of his mind the sounds he heard the moment 
before. In an orchestral composition he catches 
the most decided tone colors, he is exhilarated 
with the grandeur of accumulated crescendos, the 
fierce rush of the prestos, the electric pulse of the 
rhythms, and is soothed by the contrasting mur- 
mur of soft melodies. He enjoys the brilliant ex- 
ecution of the pianist, the sympathetic voice of the 
famous singer. He is very conscious of melody — 
at least in fragments; he is less conscious of har- 
mony; counterpoint is an unknown tongue. He 
is often like one who walks through a gallery of 
paintings, glancing from side to side, catching 

1 Exceptions to this principle, of course, occur in dramatic music, 
where, for example, a piercing high note, a fortissimo or harshly 
dissonant chord, or a distant trumpet tone will convey vivid sug* 
gestion by means of imitation or direct association. 



glimpses of forms and colors, but when his ex- 
cursion is over remembers little of what he has 
seen, and doubts if he is much the wiser for his 
experience. The musical world of the dilettante 
is often a sort of twilight region, in which every- 
thing is indistinct and many things beautiful are 
quite unseen. 

Out of this misty realm of sensation the ama- 
teur, as soon as he is enlightened upon the real 
nature of art, wishes to emerge; he desires to ar- 
range and solidify his impressions into something 
coherent, and fortify them with elements which he 
has not before perceived. In a word, he wishes to 
hear definitely instead of indefinitely. 

In listening to a piece of music we observe the 
actual growth of an organic structure; we are 
witnesses of a process, each detail of which has a 
certain necessity in the realization of a design. 
A complete understanding of the work would 
imply an ability to comprehend not only the 
composer's ruling motive but also the function of 
every melodic and harmonic factor in the scheme. 
The question how a composer works becomes of 
interest. Many people seem to have the notion that 
a musical composition is of the nature of an im- 
provisation, a succession of tones streaming out of 
a highly excited emotional condition. As regards 
a song — which in the case of a genius like Schu- 
bert may be struck out at a white heat and jotted 
down in a few feverish moments — this is in part 
true, but not so in respect to a work containing 


an abundance of varied ideas and elaborate in or- 
ganization. Beethoven spent many days in writ- 
ing the funeral march of the " Heroic" symphony, 
but we are not to suppose that his thoughts during 
that time were constantly fixed on mortality and 
the grave. We think of Tchaikovsky as a man 
in whom there was an especially direct connection 
between his moods and his music, but listen to 
what he says in one of his letters: " Those who 
imagine that a creative artist can, through the 
medium of his art, express his feelings at the mo- 
ment when he is moved make the greatest mistake. 
Emotions, sad or joyful, can only be expressed 
retrospectively, so to speak. Without any special 
reason for rejoicing I may be moved by the most 
cheerful creative mood, and, vice versa, a work 
composed amid the happiest surroundings may 
be touched with dark and gloomy colors.' ' We 
know that Beethoven and Chopin — composers 
whose music is charged to a high degree of emo- 
tional tension — were slow and laborious workers, 
Beethoven, particularly, being forced to struggle 
not only with the working out of his themes, but 
in many cases with the themes themselves, fairly 
twisting and hammering them into shape before he 
could begin to make use of them as constructive 
material. So true is it that a musical composition 
is a work of conscious reflective design that an 
actual personal emotion may even stand in the 
way of the best success in execution. Grieg's 
funeral march written in honor of his beloved 


friend, Rikard Nordraak, is on the whole rather 
commonplace, while thousands have been deeply 
moved by the pathos of "Ase's Death," written to 
suit a purely imaginary situation. The sublime 
"Dead March" in Handel's "Saul" and the awful 
dirge for Titurel in Wagner's "Parsifal" were cer- 
tainly not inspired by personal experiences on the 
part of their authors. On the other hand, it would 
be impossible to find any connection between 
Mozart's distressing circumstances in 1788 and the 
three symphonies of that year — symphonies which 
seem fairly aglow with the joie de vivre. We need 
not regret that such is the case. It is the glory of 
art that its masterpieces are written in uncon- 
scious sympathy with universal human feeling, 
and are not the less sincere when they call forth 
tears such as their creators never shed. 

In spite of this, I trust that I do not need to say 
that great music is something more than the result 
of a merely mechanical process. The truth seems 
to be that the first idea of the spirit and something 
of the form of a work often come in a sort of 
instantaneous vision, and the excited mood may 
often arise from an actual personal experience. 
The theme itself, which may suddenly flash upon 
the composer's mind, will often contain implicitly 
the essential character of the movement, as in the 
opening measures of Beethoven's Fifth symphony 
or the Scherzo of Mendelssohn's "Scotch" sym- 
phony. But the decision how the subject shall 
be treated and the giving of body and form to the 


idea is a very deliberate process; and when the 
composer takes pen in hand he must keep his 
head cool and call upon the result of his years of 
theoretical training, for his problem now is largely 
technical. This is even more the case with the 
composer, especially the instrumental composer, 
than it is with the sculptor or the painter, for his 
art is not at all imitative of nature, and so being 
free from any control by outward phenomena he 
is bound by the inner necessity of shaping his airy 
material by the laws which itself decrees. 

It is these laws that the serious music lover wishes 
to understand, so far as a knowledge of them is 
necessary to enable him to follow a work in all its 
parts and take into his mind everything that con- 
tributes to its essential character. Order is heav- 
en's first law in art as in nature, and the recogni- 
tion of orderly arrangement in sounds is the first 
condition of definite impressions in hearing music. 
Even if the human mind does not instinctively 
seek for orderly relations among audible phe- 
nomena, at any rate a sense of these relationships 
and a desire for them can easily be awakened. It 
is a faculty to be cultivated like any other; it is a 
question of degrees. The craving for system and 
proportion is betrayed in the simplest folk song, 
even in the barren repetitions that abound in the 
music of savages. From such naive devices up to 
the first movement of the "Heroic" symphony we 
find in every stage of musical progress the same 
necessity at work. A musical composition, like a 


drama or any other product of artistic contrivance, 
is a community in which each member ministers 
to the welfare of the whole, and draws from the 
whole organism the vital force which maintains 
its own existence. Says Dr. William Pole: "One 
may fancy a musical composition which, though 
it may be divided into measures and groups of 
measures, consists of a constant succession of 
heterogeneous ideas, none of which have any re- 
lation to any others going before or after them. 
This may be called amorphous music, that is, 
music without form; and even though the ideas 
presented might be very good, it would be tiresome 
and wearying to listen to. All great composers 
have perceived this, and they have, therefore, ta- 
ken care to lighten the effort by causing a com- 
position to contain but few novel ideas, and giving 
the chief interest by their skilful and musician- 
like treatment.' ' 

The only fault that might be found with this 
statement is in the implied reason for this procedure 
on the part of composers; it is not to make things 
easy for the listener, but in obedience to an artistic 
necessity, that regularity of structure has prevailed. 
Even the classic forms of fugue and sonata, which 
Dr. Pole evidently has in mind, although their su- 
premacy has long since passed, contain a principle 
that has never yet been abrogated. The leader- 
ship of certain themes and tonalities and the re- 
turn to them after other melodies and keys have in- 
tervened is still the method by which a straggling 


incoherence is avoided, and consistency, coherence, 
and unity maintained. " All things," says Thoreau, 
"are subjected to a rotary motion, either gradual 
and partial, or rapid and complete, from the planet 
and system to the simplest shellfish and pebbles 
on the beach. As if beauty resulted from an ob- 
ject's turning on its axis, or from the turning of 
others about it." In musical organisms, from the 
lowest to the highest, we find application of the 
universal law of rhythm — we find action and 
reaction, control and subordination, growth from 
the simple to the complex, adjustment of elements 
for the attainment of order, unity, and reasoned 

The sum of the matter is that a musical work, 
whatever its dimensions, however various and afflu- 
ent in ideas, however copious in emotional change 
and contrast, must still, from the most liberal 
point of view, possess consistency; everything 
must tend to an impression to which all the parts 
contribute; so that when surveyed in its en- 
tirety it will appear that it is one thing and not 
many things. Like an organism in the natural 
world, all the parts draw their nourishment from 
the common current of life, and in turn give that 
life the means of fulfilling the destiny which it was 
intended to serve in its own special kingdom. 

William F. Apthorp, in an interesting little essay 
on The Non-musician 1 s Enjoyment of Music, cites 
the case of a concert goer who received no intelli- 
gible impression from orchestral music, all instru- 


mental music being equally meaningless to him, but 
who intensely enjoyed Brahms's C minor sym- 
phony, while Schumann's symphony in D minor left 
him indifferent, and he asks the reader to explain 
this anomaly. But Mr. Ap thorp's paradox, as he 
states it, is impossible — the person in question 
must have obtained some kind of definite impres- 
sion from the Brahms symphony, else he would not 
have preferred it to the other. There must have 
been something more perceived than mere "volume, 
dynamic force, energy." We speak of the hearing 
of musically ignorant people as vague, but it is 
never entirely vague. From even the most be- 
wildering orchestral complexity of a Strauss or a 
Reger there will emerge bits of melody, rhythm, 
and tone color that will convey notions of some- 
thing salient and individual. Hence the music 
lover who wishes to increase his enjoyment does 
not need to be provided with a new faculty — 
he needs only to be shown how to develop the 
powers of perception and coordination which he 
already possesses and to employ them as the very 
conditions of musical art demand. 

"It is clear," says Miss Ethel Puffer, "that the 
real musical beauty is in the melodic idea; in the 
sequence of tones which are indissolubly one, 
which are felt together, one of which cannot exist 
without the other. Musical beauty is in the in- 
trinsic musical form. . . . The perfect structure 
will be such a unity that it will be felt as one. . . . 
The ideal musical consciousness would have an % 


ideally great range; it not only realizes the concat- 
enation [of harmonies and keys], but it would 
take it in as one takes in a single phrase, a simple 
tune, retaining it from first note to last. The or- 
dinary musical consciousness has merely a much 
shorter breath. It can 'feeP an air, a movement; 
it cannot feel a symphony, it can only perceive 
the relation of keys and harmonies therein. With 
repeated hearing, study, experience, this span of 
beauty may be indefinitely extended — in the in- 
dividual, as in the race. But no one will deny 
that the direct experience of beauty, the single 
aesthetic thrill, is measured exactly by the length 
of this span. It is only genius — hearer or com- 
poser — who can operate a longue haleine" 

The early lessons in the noble art of listening 
to music must, therefore, deal much with matters 
of form and structure. For two reasons — first 
for the sake of making the hearing definite and 
complete, and second for the pleasure derived 
from the ability to recognize the composer's skill 
in handling the devices that make for artistic per- 
fection. Even though the scientific elements in 
art are agencies to higher ends, nevertheless, since 
they are a sine qua non y a full appreciation of art 
is not possible without some knowledge of their 
functions, and the ability to appraise them. The 
parts which are welded together by the composer's 
craft are not only beautiful in themselves but still 
more beautiful in their relations of mutual service. 
Many people who praise music rapturously miss 


this great distinctive element, without which there 
is, properly speaking, no art. What they lose is 
not only valuable in respect to immediate im- 
pression but necessary to make the impression 
permanent. As I have already said, a dim recol- 
lection of emotional states is not sufficient for one 
who desires that art should contribute to the riches 
of the intellectual life. One longs for a concrete 
image that can be retained, reviewed, and recog- 
nized at a later appearance, and the condition of 
this objective reality lies not in memories of pleasant 
excitement, nor even in memories of harmonic and 
orchestral color, but in memories of form. Form 
is not only an indispensable means by which the 
artist makes clear to himself and communicates to 
others the impulse that stirred his soul to utter- 
ance, but it is in itself a thing to be admired by 
reason of the beauty that lies in proportion, order, 
and unified variety. The random hearer of mu- 
sic, like the nonchalant stroller in cathedral aisles, 
perceives the variety but not the unity. He is not 
drawn by the intellectual strength that controls the 
rebellious forces which the artist wields. There 
is an inexhaustible delight in following the artist's 
plan as he develops his motives, builds up his de- 
signs, and adjusts his melodies, rhythms, and har- 
monies into patterns of grace and symmetry. 

In no art can this factor be omitted by the dil- 
ettante. In every good painting the artist selects, 
rejects, and arranges; never does he give a literal 
photographic reproduction of his subject. Straight 



lines and curves echo or supplement one another; 
objects balance and relieve one another; masses, 
colors, lights and shades are arranged for the pur- 
pose of variety, reinforcement, and concentration; 
the observer's eye is directed by a multitude of 
subtle expedients to the central point of interest. 
Even in literature the same principle holds good. 
The casual reader who studies Professor Richard 
G. Moul ton's Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist and 
Professor Bliss Perry's Art of Fiction will have his 
eyes opened to the importance of form and ar- 
rangement even in those departments of art where 
the author had seemed most free to follow nature 

When listening to music is active and not passive 
there are two mental operations involved, viz., jl, 
expectation and recollection. One reason, doubt- J 
less, why a musical work that is worthy of repetition 
is more enjoyed at subsequent hearings than at the 
first is because these two faculties are more and 
more alive. Not only is expectation aroused from 
moment to moment, but expectation is satisfied, 
giving the pleasure that is at the bottom of a large 
share of our mental and physical enjoyments — 
that of relief following a sense of effort. Memory, 
becoming more exact while at the same time it 
reaches over a larger surface, retains impressions of 
beauty when sounds have ceased, and joins them 
in reinforcement to beauties present and to come. 

In the music lover's initiation into the mys- 
teries of structure he will make trial of the simpler 


and more regular forms first, and that means, of 
course, the so-called classic forms. To plunge into 
the complexities of Wagner and the subtleties of 
Debussy before one is able to trace the design of a 
Mendelssohn "Song without Words' y would result 
only in mental confusion. The commonplace rules 
of all education are sufficient guides. The classic 
forms and diatonic harmonies are to be chosen at 
the beginning because they are the basis of modern 
musical structure, and the study of them clears 
away from the student's mind those difficulties 
that are greatest because they are fundamental. 
The first chapters in the book of form will, there- 
fore, deal with the song form, the sonata, the rondo, 
the variation, and the fugue. 

The study of form may for convenience be 
divided into two departments, viz., rhythmic struct- 
ure and thematic development. For the sake of 
clearness it seems best to me to transfer the consid- 
eration of the first to the chapter on melody and 
rhythm, simply premising that the logical method 
in instruction would be to exercise the learner in 
the recognition of the fundamental metrical struct- 
ure of section, phrase, and period as the basis of 
order in the variety of rhythmic figuration, before 
he makes acquaintance with the larger specialized 
forms, rhythmic arrangement being primary and 
universal in music, thematic alteration being derived 
and secondary. 

In the more highly organized musical composi- 
tions the variation of theme constitutes the device 



whose happy discovery, together with the princi- 
ple of repetition and relativity in tonality and 
rhythm, gave to musical architecture its sym- 
metry, unity of design, and stability. Its impor- 
tance has been variable. The classic masters were 
content with a few themes, and concentrated their 
effort on the modification and combination of these, 
while the invention of a lavish profusion of novel 
ideas has been more consciously the aim of the 
romantic composers. Nevertheless, the subjec- 
tion of themes to ever-changing aspects of shape 
and color, and the dominance of certain tonalities, 
have always been held as the chief means by which 
musical invention is to be restrained from falling 
into a license and disorder that would defeat its 
own purpose. The listener, therefore, must hold 
in his mind the thought of organized develop- 
ment as he follows a performance phrase by phrase. 
He must know something of the possibilities that 
lie in thematic work, the processes employed by 
the masters in the evolution of movements out of the 
leading themes and motives. "An exact survey of 
the nature and means of the art of thematic con- 
struction," says Arrey von Dommer, "can be ob- 
tained by any one who can read notes or play the 
piano to some extent. Whoever accustoms him- 
self to study music from this point of view will in 
a short time obtain from any composition a far 
higher enjoyment. He who considers the matter 
earnestly will perceive an organic life where be- 
fore he was conscious only of details, indistinct 


outlines, detached fragments of melody, rhythm, 
or harmony. To hear music correctly and with 
intelligence, to perceive and comprehend a musical 
composition as a work of art developed organically 
out of an idea, must always be the effort of the 
music lover. To accomplish this one must have 
far more than the ability to be agreeably excited 
by musical sounds. Where one person is satisfied 
with a mere superficial pleasure and a comfortable 
feeling of idle reverie, perceiving nothing but a 
mere hazy and uncertain succession of tone pictures, 
the expert musician sees a fulness of animated 
forms, proceeding from one another and flowing 
into one another, all closely united by a firm 
spiritual tie. The artificial enthusiasm, or the 
hardly concealed indifference, which one often ob- 
serves in concert halls, even in the performance of 
masterpieces, shows plainly enough how super- 
ficially in most cases music is heard, and that in 
such instances there is a complete absence of any 
real love of the art. Where one finds himself 
falling into this, there must by all means be an 
effort to come into a closer understanding of the 
subject. The study of the development of themes 
and phrases is the first condition of a true art under- 
standing; besides that, it is an inexhaustible source 
of constantly renewed enjoyment." 

The only amendment that should be made to 

this very satisfactory statement is that even one 

who cannot read notes or play the piano need not 

be shut out from the privilege of recognizing themes 



and following them in their chameleon-like changes. 
A few repetitions of themes will enable the ear to 
hold them by their salient features, and with ex- 
perience there will be constant growth in the power 
of systematic observation. 

At this point it is time to bring in a qualification. 
It is very easy to overdo the matter in expounding 
musical analysis, and use it as a means of suppress- 
ing imagination and chilling emotion. Form, 
structure, harmony, and counterpoint are to be ex- 
plained only so far as a knowledge of their laws is 
useful for the training of the observation and con- 
firming the power to appreciate aesthetic unity. 
The novice need not know an inversion from a 
suspension; double counterpoint need not be even 
a name to him; these things are no more required 
for the enjoyment of music than a familiarity with 
metrical terminology is needed for the enjoyment 
of poetry. The essential thing is to hear the subtle 
accents and shades in verse melody, to hear every- 
thing that goes on in a fine piece of music, not to 
label and classify scientific devices. Many teachers 
are so enamored with the theoretical side of their 
art that they carry the dissection of form to a 
superfluous excess and encourage pedantry rather 
than real aesthetic perception. The instructor will 
often find among his disciples prosaic natures who 
readily acquire a lively interest in the mechanical 
construction of musical compositions; they love to 
see the " wheels go 'round " ; whether a work is beau- 
tiful or not is a minor consideration, provided 


it furnishes them an opportunity for gratifying 
their morbid passion for analysis. Such are to be 
found in a certain class of Wagner enthusiasts, who 
are so busy in identifying the "leading motives' ' 
which they have found in the "guides" that 
they are often cold to the splendor and passion of 
the music. On the other hand there are musical 
devotees, for whom we should cherish respect, who 
revolt at this whole process of vivisection. The 
dry exposition of subject and counter-subject, of 
phrase and period, of link passage and codetta, 
is an offence to them. They heap contumely 
upon the "analytical program." They shout 
amen to the opinion of Debussy who, as Mrs. 
Liebich tells us, introduced his salutatory as musi- 
cal critic of the Revue blanche with the announce- 
ment that he should endeavor to trace in a musical 
work "the many different emotions which have 
helped to give it birth, and also to demonstrate its 
inner life. This will surely be accounted of greater 
interest than the game which consists in dissecting 
it as if it were a curious timepiece. Men in gen- 
eral forget that as children they were forbidden to 
dismember their playthings, but they still persist 
in poking their aesthetic noses where they are not 
wanted." Felix Weingartner points out a danger 
from the excessive study of treatises on form and 
analytic program books, when he says: "As 
we are trained by reading program books and 
guides to hear and look at the works not in their 
entirety but in detail, it is only the small minority 


who, on hearing a new composition, consider the 
general impression of the whole before commencing 
to consider the details; yet these latter can only be 
comprehensible by and in view of the ensemble" 

The answer to these objections has been given in 
the preceding pages. The wisdom of the warning 
must, however, be acknowledged and the saving 
doctrine found between the two extremes. On 
the whole it may be said that the dangers that lie 
in the emphasis upon technicalities are less than 
the dangers of ignorance. It is with art as it is 
with nature — the lore of birds and plants and 
trees need not check but may stimulate the sense 
of beauty and the ardor of mystical companionship. 
The most impassioned writers on nature, the 
most eloquent, the most alive to the broad aspects 
and the poetic suggestions, are the men of scientific 
knowledge, with powers accustomed to minute ob- 
servation. The discriminating vision, certainly, is 
not sufficient alone; there must be the large syn- 
thesis and the impulsive joy. Not every botanist 
would be an acceptable walking companion for 
Wordsworth or Hazlitt. When observation has 
done its work and the sight is cleared, one asks 
for "that undisturbed silence of the heart which 
alone is perfect eloquence." The learning of the 
laboratory may miss the last secret. The rich and 
rare combination is that of the naturalist's eye and 
the poet's soul. 

This development of the analytic and the syn- 
thetic powers in cooperation is one of the finest 

6 3 


gains of the study of musical form. This apprecia- 
tion of form, it must be emphatically observed, 
should be as liberal and elastic as form itself has 
proved to be in the evolution of modern music. 
The classic patterns of sonata, rondo, and fugue 
served a necessary, an inevitable purpose in the pro- 
gressive upbuilding of musical art, and the works 
of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven stand in monu- 
mental dignity for the admiration of all coming 
generations. But in the fulness of time these forms, 
having served their end, tend to loosen, expand, 
and disintegrate; the elements of which they are 
composed — the phrase and the period — readjust 
themselves into other schemes of design. The 
later tendency has been to proceed from strict form 
to free form. The composer is no longer bound to 
adhere to an authoritative model, which was de- 
vised when the development of strict form was 
the supreme requirement for artistic advancement. 
This technical mastery is at last attained and the 
composer now makes expression his supreme end, 
the feeling and the contrast of feeling determining 
the form, regular or irregular, according to the 
wilfulness of the moment. This emancipation of 
the art from the restraints of strict form has been 
especially manifest in vocal music. Wagner has 
shown us with admirable clearness in The Music 
of the Future and in Actor and Singer how the 
aria form, which had become standardized in the 
opera, forbade a free development of a continuous 
dramatic idea by breaking up a scene into a num- 


ber of isolated fragments which he calls "tunes," 
consisting of two or three symmetrical divisions, and 
separated by dry recitatives. Under this plan the 
action could move only by fits and starts, and no 
large and comprehensive scheme of poetic develop- 
ment was possible. It was as if Shakespeare had 
been compelled to write the speeches of his charac- 
ters each in a prescribed number of lines and place 
them at regular distances apart. Nothing less 
could content Wagner than "turning the whole 
full stream to which Beethoven swelled German 
music into the channel of the musical drama." 
By this he meant not Beethoven's sonata form 
and proportionally measured periods, but the 
richness, the unlimited abundance, the continu- 
ous flow of the Beethoven music, where there was 
no "framing of a melody," no padding with con- 
ventional passage work, but where "everything 
became melody." Wagner's form is a form that 
is not molded by any mechanical pattern, but one 
that grows directly out of the buoyant expansive 
impulse that inspires the poetry and the action. 
Each situation, each line even, has its own individ- 
ual movement. The form is completely free. 

The same tendency is seen in the song, from 
Schubert to Hugo Wolf. In such a song as " Who 
is Sylvia?" or "Leise fliehen (The Serenade)" the 
melodic form is conventional and would be as well 
suited to many other poems. But in "The Phan- 
tom Double" and "Death and the Maiden," many 
of the songs of Schumann, most of the songs of 

6 5 


Grieg and Strauss, perhaps all of the songs of 
Wolf, the form of each melody belongs to the 
particular poem to which it is set and to no other. 
The form is free, irregular so far as musical design 
is concerned. And the hearer must perforce listen 
to the music from the standpoint of the words, and 
the form beauty is not one of space proportions or 
a circle of tonalities, but a beauty of adaptation. 

This principle has been carried over to that de- 
partment of instrumental music known as " repre- 
sentative' ' or " illustrative " music. A subject like 
Liszt's "Preludes" or Strauss's " Death and Glo- 
rification" — a subject that has literary or pictorial 
progress and conclusion — cannot follow any one 
of the orthodox schemes of design. As a whole 
and in details the music must issue from the poetic 
idea and imagery. The form is free, and there 
may be as many forms as there are program sym- 
phonies or symphonic poems. 

In abstract instrumental music also this eman- 
cipating impulse has been felt. In such works as 
Tchaikovsky's last symphony and Chopin's Bal- 
lades and Fantaisies the composer is as unshackled 
in the shaping of the entire outline as he is in the 
invention of his melodies. The themes may or 
may not "develop" according to the classic method. 
It is of no consequence where they are repeated or 
whether they are repeated at all. In succession of 
keys, in balance of rhythmic figures, the composer 
is constrained by no outward pressure of custom, 
but only by an inner compulsion which bids him 


put his emotion into a form which will give that 
emotion an unimpeded outlet. 

There is a class of critics at the present day, in- 
cluding some of our ablest writers, who joyfully 
hail these later tendencies as a sign of the abroga- 
tion of the formal principle, as the triumph of 
feeling over convention, the close approach to ulti- 
mate truth. But these writers hardly mean all that 
they seem to say. The adaptation of parts to a com- 
mon aim is the very condition of life in art; with- 
out unification of plan art dies, for incoherence is 
the negation of art. Their protest is actually di- 
rected against the despotic subjection of art to 
certain standardized types of form. Even in Wag- 
ner's dramas and Elgar's oratorios and Debussy's 
tone-poems, with their unrestrained pliancy and 
power of instantaneous adjustment to thought and 
situation, there is no violation of the supreme law, 
liberally interpreted. Forms change but form re- 

Form in the bolder practice of the present day 
grows from within outward. It is plastic, is not 
bound to imitate an academic model, but is shaped 
to the special needs of the subject or motive, find- 
ing its sole business to bring that to expression by 
whatever novelty of device is most efficient. The 
music lover, training himself to recognize and fol- 
low musical structure as a development out of cer- 
tain germ ideas, must also recognize in every case 
the purpose for which the form exists, whether this 
form be strict or free. The error of the oppo- 

6 7 


nents of Liszt and Wagner consisted in setting up 
certain necessary and admirable forms as infal- 
lible and immutable standards; it was the error 
of those in all times who have opposed free- 
dom in art because they could not see that form 
is a means and not an end. Formlessness indeed 
is fatal; but at the same time the conception of 
what constitutes proper form must be left to those 
who create, and must be allowed to obey and not 
to control invention. As " the thoughts of men 
are widened with the process of the suns," so old 
modes and fashions of expression are left behind* 
Forms live and grow because the spirit grows. 
Three hundred years ago Edmund Spenser, in his 
Hymne in Honour of Beautie, uttered what comes 
near to the central truth of art: 

"So every spirit, as it is most pure, 
And hath in it the more of heavenly light, 
So it the fairer bodie doth procure 
To habit in, and it more fairely dight 
With chearefull grace and amiable sight; 
For of the soule the bodie form doth take; 
For soule is form and doth the bodie make." 




In the foregoing discussion the word form has 
been used rather vaguely, for my purpose is to 
study the action of music upon the mind of the 
music lover so far as it has to do with his immediate 
enjoyment, and not to draw up a treatise on the 
scientific materials of music which would pass 
muster before an examining board of theorists. 
In speaking of form I have had in mind what 
Gurney calls " the individualizing element, the ele- 
ment by which things are known and recognized.' ' 
Form— melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic — is that 
which imparts a notion of plan, order, consistency, 
organization among successions either of single 
tones or masses of tones. Whether under such a 
designation as "sonata form" including the whole 
compass of a composition, or the contour of a com- 
ponent as small as a single motive, or a chord com- 
bination that establishes a definite tonality or group 
of tonalities — form consists in any arrangement of 
auditory images which gives the notion of some- 
thing individual and self-consistent. The recog- 
nition of design and unity amid variety is, as I 

6 9 


have tried to show, the prime condition of the 
appreciation of a musical composition as a work 
of art. On this basis we can discuss a composi- 
tion with our neighbor, confident that we have 
both received impressions that are sufficiently defi- 
nite to permit comparison of opinions. 

Among the components of musical effect melody 
seems to claim the first consideration, for whatever 
may be said of the sensuous charm and expres- 
sional value of harmony and tone color, it is certain 
that the fundamental musical consciousness is that 
of progression from point to point, with the rhyth- 
mic melodic outline as the essential agency that 
binds the whole together into a coherent self-sup- 
porting entity. Rhythmic accent is doubtless still 
more fundamental as mere sense impression, but 
as beats of varying degrees of force, or periodic 
variations of tone lengths, do not in themselves 
produce a musical outline without a perception of 
definite changes of pitch, the impression of tune- 
fulness, with a more or less apparent rhythmic 
distribution, is the prime source of the average 
musical experience. Both taught and untaught 
music lovers are more distinctly aware of rhythmic 
melody in the first hearing of a piece than of any 
other feature, and among the untaught hearers 
nine out of ten are distinctly observant of nothing 
else, except, perhaps, certain dynamic and color 
effects in performance. That one passage is louder 
than another, or that a piccolo shrieks or a 
kettle-drum rumbles, would, of course, be noticed 


even by a child; but it could hardly be said that in- 
telligence is at work in such an observation. When 
the mind is able to put impressions together in 
orderly relations, it is melody first of all that 
awakens the joyful sense of beauty. 

Since the consciousness of melody seems to be 
so nearly instinctive and universal, the question 
naturally arises, Can an appreciation of melody 
be increased by instruction? If by this is meant, 
Can a love of good melody be awakened by techni- 
cal explanations; can the points of superiority in 
certain melodies be pointed out in such a way that 
general principles can be deduced to serve as in- 
fallible tests for melody in general, the answer 
must be negative. If a listener does not feel in 
his heart that Schubert's "Who is Sylvia?" or 
the theme of the Larghetto of Beethoven's Second 
symphony is not a better tune than the latest 
popular song that came last week and will be 
forgotten to-morrow, there is no possible way of 
convincing him. We may tell him that a fine 
tune has individual character, a sort of positiveness 
that distinguishes it from others and takes firm 
hold upon the memory, and he will ask us if " Yan- 
kee Doodle" does not meet these conditions. If 
my friend asserts that "Pop goes the Weasel" is 
a better tune than Wolfram's "Invocation" I may 
assert the contrary; but my assertion is purely dog- 
matic, and I may have no recourse at last except to 
call him hard names. The only method of bring- 
ing the Philistine to a better mind would be to give 


him a course in themes by the great masters if he 
would submit to the discipline, and if he inquired 
why we made these particular selections we should 
be obliged to fall back on the general consent of 
the musical world as our warrant. To so slight a 
degree does anything like established law reign in 
matters of melody that we are sometimes almost 
provoked to say that a taste in tunes is as irrespon- 
sible as a preference in salads or millinery. 

Standards of good and bad in melody we feel 
that there must be, but when we try to draw con- 
clusions that will serve as laws we find decisions of 
equally intelligent arbiters varying with periods, 
nationalities, customs, and temperaments. There 
are melodies, to use Hanslick's expression, which 
"once were beautiful"; and we may also believe 
that there are melodies, now friendless, that some- 
time will be beloved. When "Tannhauser" first 
appeared, the stock accusation against it on the 
part of many professional musicians and critics 
was that it had no melody. The same charge was 
at one time brought against Gounod's "Faust," 
although to many this will seem incredible. At 
the first performance of Beethoven's "Fidelio" in 
one of the Italian cities, an indignant hearer called 
out, "That isn't music, that's philosophy." Wag- 
ner is now recognized as a great melodist, but 
many ardent Wagnerians deny the melodic gift 
to Strauss and Debussy. They may be correct in 
this, but in view of past instances a cautious man 
would hesitate in putting himself on record with 


such an affirmation. Many lovers of Beethoven, 
Schubert, and Chopin do not find melody in the 
organ and piano works of Sebastian Bach, while to 
the Bach disciple these works are flooded with mel- 
ody of a high order of beauty. The precisely op- 
posite effects of Liszt's melody on different critics 
are well known. Even the fact of spontaneity and 
originality, which would seem at first thought easy 
to determine, is constantly in dispute. 

The explanation of many of these anomalies and 
others similar to them is to be found in habit. 
The well-known maxim, omne ignotum pro mag- 
nifico, does not apply to popular musical taste. 
Melody has undergone progressive changes, es- 
pecially during the past century, and where melody 
is not recognized in a new work the explanation 
will commonly be found in the fact that the themes 
are unlike those to which the listeners have been 
accustomed. When composers such as Wagner 
and Schubert have failed to win approval at the 
outset the trouble has lain in the novelty of their 
melodic forms. The difficulty with the average 
man to-day is very much what it was with many 
cultivated musicians when "Tannhauser" and 
"Lohengrin" were first performed — he accepts 
as melody only those successions of tones in which 
there is a decided accent at equal distances, and 
in which the rhythmic phrases that result are so 
few and so evenly balanced that the mind can 
follow the simple design with the minimum of 
effort, and hence easily receives the impression of 


something distinct and complete. These brief 
melodic forms, which writers nowadays, following 
Wagner's appellation, call "times" or "dance 
tunes" to distinguish them from melody in which 
this simple mathematical proportion is avoided, are 
based on the more fundamental harmonic rela- 
tions, with regularly returning cadences and half 
cadences. No disparagement is implied in this 
classification, for among these rhythmically square- 
cut tunes we find some of the finest inspirations of 
musical genius. Hymn tunes are of this charac- 
ter,, also folk songs, countless themes of surpassing 
beauty by Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Schubert, 
Verdi, and all the great masters of song — melodies 
which the world has taken into its heart of hearts as 
a treasure incomparably precious. No training is re- 
quired to appreciate these, but a restriction to them 
on the part of the average man forbids him to follow 
the broader flights to which melody, especially in 
the latter time, has adventured. Mark Twain, after 
hearing "Lohengrin," declared that there was only 
one good tune in the whole opera, meaning, of 
course, the "Bridal Chorus." It was not that each 
phrase in this melody would have seemed to him act- 
ually more beautiful than many other phrases in the 
work if an equally distinct impression could have 
been received; but here was something terse, brief, 
and regular, the whole thing hung together, it was 
grasped and retained in consciousness as some- 
thing distinct and tangible. Another hearer would 
find satisfying melody in the king's prayer and 


Elsa's appeal, but little or none in the first part of 
the second act. To many listeners the last act of 
"The Mastersingers " is a rather monotonous plain 
diversified by a few melodious outcroppings, such 
as Walther's "Prize Song," the Quintet and the 
"Mastersingers' March"; while in "Tristan and 
Isolde" no such salient points of vantage are to 
be found. The question here is not of good or 
poor melody, but the ability to recognize any 
melodic contour at all. 

Whatever may be said of the possibility of de- 
veloping taste in melody, it will not be denied, 
I think, that one persistent aim on the part of the 
immature music lover should be to develop the 
power of apprehension beyond the confines of 
the "tune" into those regions where the great 
composers have found the amplest melodic free- 
dom. The hearer must be practiced in following 
the melodic bounding line over larger and larger 
spaces. At the same time the unequal divisions, 
all the elevations and subsidences whose variety 
and abundance seem at first to disappoint the 
instinctive demand for unity, must be perceived 
as essential items in the design. It is only a 
question of extending the mental embrace to en- 
fold larger and larger and more and more intri- 
cate patterns. One takes for the starting point a 
short and symmetrical form, such as Brahms's 
"Slumber Song" or MacDowell's "To a Wild 
Rose"; the next step reaches a form that is larger 
but without rhythmic diversity, such as Schubert's 


"Wohin?" or the F major Etude in Chopin's 
Op. 25; then to "through-composed" songs of 
Schubert, Schumann, or Strauss, the selections 
systematically varying in extent and changefulness 
of structure. The release of the mind from bond- 
age to the four-measure and eight-measure ratio 
in metrical division means complete emancipation 
of the music* lover in his appreciation of melody. 
He can now range freely in the newly discovered 
regions which modern music has conquered. In 
the vast serpentine line of Wagner's melos there 
is a titanic shaping power at work amid all the 
apparent melodic confusion ; just as in the magnifi- 
cent sky line of the Adirondacks seen from the hills 
beyond Lake Champlain there is balanced strength 
and symmetry in the seemingly irregular sweep of 
the majestic curves. 

That this expansion of the powers of observa- 
tion will be followed by an increase of taste in the 
matter of sheer melodic quality cannot be positively 
asserted, but it seems reasonable to suppose that 
it must be so. A hearer who has trained his mind 
to follow all the sinuous windings of the tone 
stream in a fugue by Bach, a symphony move- 
ment by Tchaikovsky, or an act in a Wagner 
drama, joyfully yielding his mind to every ebb 
and swell because he realizes that the highest ends 
of artistic expression are answered by this tidal 
motion, will surely not fail to catch the beauty of 
the tuneful phrases which are involved at every 
turn. A new conception of melody will be his, 



one that will by no means deprive him of his old 
delight in melody of the simpler forms. 

The secret of the ability to follow all the fluc- 
tuations of melodic outline and to grasp the mul- 
tifarious changes of structure, lies in the cultivation 
of the sense of rhythm. Music, "the ideal mo- 
tion," consists of a succession of moments filled 
by sound, and the grati c cation that comes to the 
hearer depends for its intensity very much upon 
his consciousness that the tones and phrases are 
swayed by some law of order. Everywhere in the 
universe rhythm persists; wherever there is life 
there is ebb and flow, action and reaction, oscil- 
lation, vibration, compensating forces that support 
and relieve one another, giving to the observer as 
he surveys them an impression of ease combined 
with power. If we mystically interpret music as 
symbolic of the inner life of the universe, it is by 
virtue of its rhythmic motion. 

It is the opinion of many scholars that rhythm 
precedes melody in historic sequence, that among 
the lower races pleasure in the production of tones 
in regular beats is more primitive than the desire 
for changes in pitch. Says Richard Wallaschek: 
"Rhythm, taken in a general sense to include 
keeping in time, is the essence in music, in its 
simplest form as well as in the most skilfully elab- 
orated fugues of modern composers. To recall a 
tune the rhythm must be revived first, and the 
melody will easily be recalled. Completely to 


understand a musical work ceases to be difficult 
when once its rhythmical arrangement is mas- 
tered; and it is through rhythmical performance 
and rhythmical susceptibility that musical effects 
are produced and perceived. From these several 
data I conclude that the origin of music must be 
sought in a rhythmical impulse in man." 

In this dependence upon division of time for 
intelligibility music conforms to the great law of 
proportion by which all art is sustained — propor- 
tion in space in architecture, painting, and sculpt- 
ure, proportion in time in poetry and the dance. 
Richard Watson Gilder sings: 

"No poet he who knows not the great joy 
That pulses in the flow and rush of rhythm; 
Rhythm, which is the seed and life of life, 
And of all art the root and branch and bloom." 

In music the marked differences of taste and 
comprehension among people otherwise of equal 
intelligence is chiefly due (where tone-deafness 
does not exist) to the disparities in the ability 
to perceive order and plan. People say, for in- 
stance, that they do not "understand" such and 
such musical compositions. They mean by this 
that the mind does not adjust itself to the rhythmic 
plan of the music, that the combinations are too 
intricate and changeable to be apprehended as 
definite coherent form, and a sense of bewilder- 
ment ensues which is fatal to pleasure. No one 
ever professes inability to understand a simple 



dance or a march. One may not like it for any 
reason or no reason, but it will be easy to follow in 
its rhythmic arrangement and therefore intelligible. 
Unity without variety is as unsatisfying, in a dif- 
ferent way, as variety without unity. One reason 
of the dislike for dances or marches which many 
feel may be the monotony of the reiteration of strong 
beats, a perception of regularity that is agreeable 
at first becoming annoying, because the nerve cen- 
tres affected are soon wearied by the persistent at- 
tack upon them. It is evident that the full degree 
of pleasure is derived when there is variety enough 
to keep the expectation constantly alive, and a 
clear enough accomplishment of umty to give an 
impression of reason and order in the result. 

The experiences of the individual in his con- 
tact with ever-increasing variety and freedom of 
rhythmic design is paralleled by the experience 
of the race. Composers who have pushed the art 
of music onward have done so by enlarging their 
resources of rhythm and producing works which 
were beyond the ability of most of their contem- 
poraries to grasp with intelligent satisfaction. It 
has been writers like Mendelssohn, who did not 
put any new burden upon the rhythmic appreci- 
ative faculty, who have been at once understood 
and approved. 

The first business, therefore, of the lover of music 

who wishes to keep pace with the progress of the 

art and open his mind to the beauties that meet 

him in the works of the best composers, is to 



strengthen his ability to comprehend complex 
rhythmic relations. He will find that there are cer- 
tain tone patterns that are uniform in their regu- 
larity and very obvious in their reiteration of a few 
simple figures. The "tunes," which were spoken 
of in an earlier part of this chapter, are of this 
class, as well as all passages in which a dancelike 
movement is given by means of sharp accents re- 
curring at short intervals. It requires no educa- 
tion to recognize and follow these persistent beats 
and parallel phrases — nothing but the ability to 
keep step in a march or to beat time uniformly to 
a dance. As music becomes more highly organized 
these simple rudimentary forms give way to freer 
forms, and the listener whose rhythmic reactions 
are narrowly limited finds himself utterly confused 
by the complex tone patterns which, in their dis- 
placement of accents, avoidance of cadences, their 
interweaving of melodic lines and harmonic mass- 
es, their cross currents and eddies of shifting tones, 
seem to avoid every semblance of order and sys- 
tem. And yet it is only a difference of degree. 
Unity and plan are thera as well as in the rudi- 
mentary figures that are so gratifying to the be- 
ginner's elementary perceptions. He must sim- 
ply go to work, with the assistance of some one 
more adept in these mysteries, to learn the method 
by which these puzzling combinations resolve into 
coherence and symmetry. 

The first glance at an elaborate musical score 
seems to offer to the neophyte a spectacle of hetero- 


geneous confusion, for if he marks off with his 
eye the little compartments within the perpendicu- 
lar bar-lines he discovers a bewildering diversity 
in the appearance of their contents. A keen lis- 
tening, however, reveals to him that within this pro- 
fusion of "sounding arabesques" there are distinct 
pulses or beats which appear to supply the need of 
an underlying system of order. In marches, waltzes, 
and in a multitude of compositions beside, these 
beats are very aggressive and are followed without 
much strain upon the attention; in other works, 
such as fugues, many forms of church music, long 
sections of Wagner's dramas, the solid bony frame- 
work, if we may use such a comparison, is dis- 
solved in a fluid, seemingly shapeless progression 
of sounds. Nevertheless, in all instrumental com- 
positions and the vast majority of vocal pieces, the 
mass of sound — twisting, twining, condensing, ex- 
panding into every variety of tone outline — rests 
firmly upon a steady support of beats and simple 
measure combinations, and the recognition of the 
underlying principle of order gives to the hearer the 
happy intimation that within the flood of music there 
is definiteness and reason. Just as the profusion of 
ornament upon capitals, architraves, friezes, and cor- 
nices rests upon columns or arches standing at equal 
distances from one another, so in music the multi- 
farious forms of rhythmic figuration are saved 
from incoherence by the throb of the steady pulses 
within. Or we may compare the arrangement to 
Curves or waves, the basic or typical curves, which 


are regular, being overlaid by other curves which 
are free to take any length, to interlace, even at 
times to interfere with one another. Compar- 
isons are more or less confusing, but analysis shows 
that in music are united two rhythmic conceptions 
— one, which we may call the figuration, giving 
variety, the other, which we may call the metre, 
giving simplicity, definiteness of structure, and 
regularity. The unit of metre is the measure, cor- 
responding in a general way to the foot in verse. 
The measure is either double or triple in respect 
to its accent scheme, these fundamental accents oc- 
curring at intervals of two, three, or four beats, as 
indicated by the measure sign— f, f, f , etc. The 
measure units are themselves combined into distinct 
groups known as sections, phrases, and periods, the 
points of separation and union among them being 
made apparent to the ear by melodic and harmonic 
means (known to theorists as cadences, half ca- 
dences, interrupted cadences, and the like) which 
give the impression of little points of rest to which 
the music strives, only to take a new leap in its 
career; or else, still oftener, points where this ex- 
pectation of a subsidence of movement is disap- 
pointed, this expectation nevertheless affording 
a definite point of support for the attention. The 
normal arrangement of measures which form the 
sustaining arches of the tone edifice, is in groups of 
fours, eights, and sixteens. This standard plan is 
frequently modified, and the eight and sixteen 
measure outline gives way to divisions of six, nine, 


twelve, and other irregular successions. Even 
where the multiple of four is retained, the com- 
poser loves to evade the formality of the plan by 
harmonic and rhythmic devices that keep the 
attention poised over longer curves. A large 
amount of metrical freedom is allowed the com- 
poser, but only on the condition that he shall not 
abuse the privilege and violate the law of balance 
and proportion. 

It is the comparatively simple metrical order, 
therefore, on which the hearer must base his at- 
tention. He must feel the metrical pulse beating 
in the veins of his own musical consciousness, 
and from out the tangle of harmonies, melodies, 
and ornamentation there will emerge the firm out- 
line of a design which makes everything coherent, 
and gratifies that innate sense of order which gov- 
erns the instinctive human activities and is also the 
ruling principle of art. 

The failure mentally to accompany the rhyth- 
mic progress of a piece of music is often due, not 
to a congenital lack of rhythmic faculty, but to the 
distraction of the attention from the characteristic 
beat and metrical divisions by other elements which 
are for the moment more engaging — brilliant pas- 
sage work, perhaps, or glaring tone color. The 
last of the merits in good piano playing to be 
appreciated by the average listener is the phras- 
ing; but phrasing is simply making the rhythmic 
structure apparent to the ear. First a general 
knowledge of the foundation principles of musical 



design in distribution of metrical accents and 
groups of accents, then the attention which sets in 
motion analogous beats and waves in the conscious- 
ness, and the listener will soon find a new world 
of pleasure opening within him. The most in- 
tricate patterns will unfold a world of beautiful 
balanced forms. With experience there will come 
the ability to compare work with work and com- 
poser with composer, penetrating many secrets of 
style, estimating merit and gladly recognizing 
mastery. The comparison of the music of a writer 
like Mendelssohn, who is often subject to rhyth- 
mic monotony, with the rhythmic affluence and 
constant surprise of Schubert or Schumann; the 
study of the remarkable development of Wagner 
in the command of this side of his art from "The 
Flying Dutchman" to "Tristan and Isolde"; 
the analysis of the subtleties and mannerisms 
of Brahms, of the resistless logic within the pas- 
sionate ebb and flow of Beethoven, the solution 
of the rhythmic puzzles offered in some of the 
works of the Russian school — these interests en- 
ter strongly into the business of the music stu- 
dent; and as fast as they are brought to the 
attention of the amateur they enlarge the reach of 
his intelligent judgment. As the sounding shapes 
which once seemed all confusion begin to move in 
his consciousness in reasoned order and mutual 
aid his mind dilates with a sense of ease; he seems 
to play, as in a native element, in these waves of 
tone. The contrivances for temporary disturbance 

8 4 


such as syncopation, irregular rhythm, and cross 
rhythm; interlacing curves in fugal counterpoint, 
where unlike melodic figures seem struggling for 
the mastery and rhythm seems lost in its own very 
abundance; the restraint of the tonal whirl from 
lawless confusion by the grasp of a few master 
figures or (as often in Beethoven) by a single mas- 
ter figure; the devices for imparting a sense of 
tension^ concentration, and climax, or of relaxation, 
subsidence, and relief, • — these tokens of creative 
genius, almost rivalling the living forms of nature in 
affluence and beauty, are to^nusic what the ner- 
vous system is to the human organism. Through 
this vibrating network the soul of the music is 
revealed. It is not merely the means of obtain- 
ing unity amid diversity, it is the very life of music 

The close parallel that exists between the ac- 
cents and rhythmic groupings of music and the 
posturings and evolutions of the dance is almost 
too obvious to require statement. It is not out of 
place, however, to call attention to the usefulness 
of dancing, both to the observer and the partici- 
pant, through the exercise it affords to the rhyth- 
mic sense. The revival of the dance in our time 
on a higher plane than of old, both on the stage 
as an art of expression and in the public schools as 
a physical and aesthetic stimulus, is, I believe, a 
wholesome sign. The dance, like music, has a two- 
fold aesthetic potency: first, of complex and unified 
movement, giving pleasure to the eye by its flow- 


ing lines that interweave in living patterns of grace, 
and second, the communication of mental states 
through the symbolism of posture and gesture. 
"The artistic dancer," says Mr. Bliss Carman, 
"uses bodily motion as a poet uses words, as a 
musician uses tones, as a painter uses colors — 
as an appeal not so much to our reason as to our 
sense and spirit — as a means of enlivening and 
gladdening our nature, making us more sensitive 
to beauty, more spontaneous in glad emotion, more 
sane and balanced in general well-being.' 9 That 
the art of dancing, once cultivated by philosophers, 
law givers, and priests as an essential in the train- 
ing of the body and in the free play of the spirit, 
has been degraded in the uses of the modern stage, 
need not deceive us concerning its possibilities of 
beauty both physical and intellectual. We can 
have little conception of what the ancient dance 
was in the period of its ripest culture. A few 
passages in the old writings " send the imagination 
wistfully across the ages, straining, as it were, to 
see what must have been some of the loveliest scenes 
in Greek life" (Royal Cortissoz). The only ade- 
quate indication of what the dance must have been 
when treated with profound seriousness by a 
people to whom beauty was a constant necessity 
of life, is to be obtained from descriptions of Jap- 
anese dances, such as the account of the ceremonies 
of the Bon-odori, the Festival of the Dead, in 
Lafcadio Hearn's fascinating book, Glimpses of 
Unfamiliar Japan. A troop of girls are dancing 


in the moonlight in the temple court, near the 
ancient place of tombs: 

"Under the wheeling moon, in the midst of the 
round, I feel as one within the circle of a charm. 
Verily this is enchantment; I am bewitched, be- 
witched by the ghostly weaving of hands, by the 
rhythmic gliding of feet, above all by the flitting 
of the marvelous sleeves — apparitional, soundless, 
velvety as a flitting of great tropical bats. . . . 
Always the white hands sinuously wave together 
as if weaving spells, alternately without and within 
the round, now with palms upward, now with palms 
downward; and all the elfish sleeves hover duskily 
together, with a shadowing as of wings; and all 
the feet poise together with such a rhythm of com- 
plex motion that, in watching it, one feels a sensa- 
tion of hypnotism, as while striving to watch a 
flowing and shimmering of water. . . . More and 
more unreal the spectacle appears, with its silent 
smilings, with its silent bowings, as of obeisance 
to watchers invisible; and I find myself wondering 
whether, were I to utter but a whisper, all would 
not vanish forever, save the gray mouldering court 
and the desolate temple and the broken statue of 
Jizo, smiling always the same mysterious smile I 
see upon the face of the dancers." 

Such enchantments can be woven by but two of 
the arts — the dance and music. What is music 
but the transmigration into tone of the immemorial 
and world-embracing spirit of the dance? In 
ancient times music was feeble and insignificant, 



but a compensation, almost an equivalent, was 
found in the beauty and expressiveness of bodily 
movement. The decline of the dance in modern 
times may be due to the development of a still 
nobler substitute. Not only the spirit, but the 
form of the dance has passed into modern music; 
historically the rhythms of instrumental music, and 
by adoption the rhythms of secular vocal music, 
are to a large extent derived from the popular dance. 
This may be almost intuitively discerned by one 
who, in listening to a performance by orchestra or 
piano, gives himself up, with closed eyes and 
rhythmic sense alert, to the swing and throb of 
the sounding forms. And whenever one has an 
opportunity to watch the dance in its best estate 
upon the stage, or in its most spontaneous form in 
folk dances, it will be found, I think, that the ap- 
preciation of the beauty that lies in music's "ideal 
motion" will be increased by the practice of the 
eye in tracing, amid the successions of bodily pose 
and gesture and evolution, the harmony of regulated 
and balanced change. 




The pleasure in melodic flow and rhythmic ac- 
cent is universal except in the case of those un- 
fortunates who are unable to recognize differences 
of pitch or regularity in recurring beats, and it re- 
quires, as I have tried to show, only such cultiva- 
tion as will enable the hearer to follow composers 
in their elaboration of certain simple elements. 
With harmony, however, the case is somewhat dif- 
ferent; a larger mental reach and a more tenacious 
grasp are required to comprehend its relations; 
and although individuals differ here as elsewhere, 
it may safely be said that a recognition of the beauty 
that lies in artistically managed combinations of 
simultaneous sounds and the richly varied color 
schemes of contrasted tonalities is the last among 
the musical appreciations to be acquired. Since the 
progressive development of harmony did not begin 
until as late as the twelfth century, it has been the 
fashion even among historians of music to ignore the 
existence of any harmonic sense up to that time, 
holding that the music of primitive and ancient 
peoples is unison only. This view can no longer be 


maintained, for it is certain that many savage tribes 
recognize the existence of musical intervals, that 
they often sing two and even more parts, and it is 
more than probable that similar experiments were 
made among the cultivated nations of antiquity. 
Professor John C. Fillmore, who made extensive 
researches in the music of the North American 
Indians, was undoubtedly not deceived in the ap- 
parent pleasure manifested by some of his dusky 
friends when their unison melodies were supplied 
with simple chords. What we call the beginning 
of counterpoint and harmony in the Middle Ages 
was merely the first fruitful recorded attempt to 
devise a system and evolve a theory of harmonic 
relations; the demand for a richer and more ex- 
pressive utterance than successions of single tones 
could supply already lay dimly in the human con- 
sciousness. The dependence of melody upon 
harmony must also be recognized. Wallaschek 
justly remarks that " there is of course no doubt 
that our feeling for and comprehension of har- 
mony have been developed by time, but so has our 
feeling for melody." "Primitive harmony is no 
doubt very rude, but primitive melody is precisely 
of the same kind." "If we compare a modern song 
with an air of savage races we find the latter very 
short, restricted to two or three tones and the 
same phrase constantly repeated, while our musical 
themes are worked out, built up, prolonged and 
varied so as to form a coherent, elaborate melody." 
It does not follow that the inability of the savage 


to invent a tune of more than one kind of melodic 
figure is due to his deficient sense of harmony; it 
is probably due rather to his incapacity for sus- 
tained thought and invention, for the early Grego- 
rian chant system, long before the employment of 
part singing in the church, contained melodies of 
great length, elaborateness, and variety. But these 
Gregorian melodies are at the same time rambling 
and for the most part irregular, except so far as the 
text to which they are set gives them something 
like rhythmic order; it is only on the basis of 
definite tonality and the relationship of tonalities 
involved in chord structure that a melody that is 
proportioned, balanced, and satisfying to the mod- 
ern ear can be developed. 

This process was long ago virtually completed 
and the psychologic results of it have become the 
inheritance of every person that is in any way sus- 
ceptible to the influences of music. The fact re- 
mains, however, that a consciousness of the beauty 
and the technical wonders of modern harmony is, 
with the average untrained music lover, the weak- 
est of all the impressions that compose his musical 
world. It is true, of course, that the modern ear, 
however unrefined, takes cognizance of a chord as 
a concrete entity, so that the most unmusical per- 
son feels that something is lacking when a singer 
sings or a violinist plays without accompaniment. 
Nevertheless, with the common man the harmonic 
images are rather nebulous and countless beauties 
that enchant the musician are to him practically 


non-existent. His hearing of a musical perform- 
ance, so far as harmony is concerned, is like indi- 
rect vision to a stroller out of doors. In the latter 
case there is a dull consciousness of a multitude of 
shapes and lights and colors forming a sort of misty 
fringe around the objects directly perceived; in the 
former a stream of sounds various in force, color, 
and fulness of texture, but unruled by any obvious 
plan, and with a thousand points of interest blurred 
in the mass. 

The musical inquirer, therefore, will seek the 
advice that will aid him in developing the faculty 
by which he may select, compare, and compre- 
hend while dealing with chord progressions and 
combinations of moving parts. The amateur 
whom I have in mind will be content with the out- 
lines of the vast science of harmony — just enough 
to enable him to sift the masses of sound that enter 
his brain and to recognize in them a certain reason 
and order. He should be initiated into a few of 
the fundamental distinctions of consonance and 
dissonance, of major and minor, of diatonic and 
chromatic harmony, of cadence and half-cadence, 
of affiliations and oppositions among tonalities, 
of modulation, of the means by which logical re- 
lations and symmetrical design are accomplished 
in the succession of contrasted keys. The reason 
is clear — even a smattering of theoretical knowl- 
edge puts the hearer on the watch, and he is able 
to capture fugitive beauties that once eluded him. 
It can be shown by examples how sometimes a 


striking point in the melody really depends for its 
effect upon a peculiar harmonic change; how 
harmony is sometimes used merely to support and 
enrich the melody, again for the sensuous delight 
in sonorous and gorgeously colored chords, and 
again as a means of definite, characteristic ex- 
pression. The learner must form the habit of 
listening down through the tone substance, follow- 
ing the movement of successive figures in the inner 
and lower parts, instead of confining his direct at- 
tention to the upper voice. He must be vigilant 
to catch the ceaseless changes of consonance and 
dissonance, of major and minor, of open and close 
harmony, and the most delicate contrasts of har- 
monic color. He may begin with the simpler har- 
monies, the so-called diatonic, in which key 
changes by sharps^ flats, and naturals are few and 
slight; choosing German chorales, or themes for 
variation by Beethoven, or simple songs by the 
great German Lied writers, in order that he may 
learn to appreciate the beauty that lies in plain 
solid harmony as handled by masters. Compar- 
ing these with the thin popular ditties of the day 
he will at once obtain an insight that will be little 
short of a revelation. After that, his ear may be 
practiced in more richly colored and more intri- 
cate patterns, until the treasures of the great mod- 
ern harmonists — the Wagners, the Chopins, the 
Griegs, the Francks — will charm without tantaliz- 
ing him. 

The difficulty of learning to follow harmonic 


progressions is not so great as at first appears. 
For a chord, like a single tone, is one thing and 
not three or four things — that is, so far as the 
immediate impression is concerned. The musi- 
cian, as Browning's Abt Vogler puts it, frames 
out of three sounds "not a fourth sound, but a 
star." These starry things called chords are al- 
most infinite in their possibilities of color arrange- 
ment. When we count up the triads, sevenths, 
ninths, and altered chords in the major and minor 
keys the number is by no means immense, but 
their available combinations are practically end- 
less. The finest ear will miss a great deal in rapid 
passages abounding in chromatic changes, and 
the wise music lover will take pains to hear copi- 
ously harmonized pieces over and over again. As 
in any exercise of the senses, improvement comes 
with practice; and when guided by a few general 
principles, and with the habit formed of listening 
to everything from the bottom to the top, he will 
finally obtain possession of an enjoyment which, 
it seems to me, is greater and more lasting than 
even the pleasure in melody and rhythm. It is a 
fact with most music lovers that melody and 
rhythm, captivating at first, will sooner or later 
lose their welcome freshness, while a fine bit of 
harmony gives a satisfaction that no amount of 
repetition can diminish. 

The method of listening to all the simultaneous 
parts at once must also be employed in hearing 
songs, operas, solo performances of violin music — 


everything in which a performer plays or sings a 
single part with the accompaniment of another in- 
strument or an orchestra. The majority of listen- 
ers to fine singing or violin playing are hardly 
conscious of the accompaniment at all, although, 
as in an immense amount of the later dramatic 
and concert music, a large proportion of the beauty 
and expression, often the leading melody itself, 
is given to the orchestra or the piano. The mod- 
ern song, for example, is very often a duet for voice 
and instrument, and the hearer who attends only 
to one part misses the half or more than half. 
Mr. Lawrence Gilman is quite right in saying that 
instead of finding fault with Wagner's works on 
the ground that the vocal parts are without musical 
interest or emotional meaning when detached from 
the orchestral support, one should see that the 
same thing is true of any writing for the voice al- 
lied with modern harmony in the accompaniment 
Inexperienced music lovers are constantly falling 
into mistakes of judgment when they disparage 
vocal works because the voice part does not carry 
them away on tuneful wings. Let them give heed 
to the accompaniment and there they will find their 

The ear must also be persuaded to the accept- 
ance of combinations at which it naturally rebels. 
The experience of the race of musicians who in 
ancient Greece and the European Middle Ages 
knew only the octave, fifth, and fourth as conso- 
nances, afterward admitted thirds and sixths, but 


balked at sevenths unprepared; then snatched a 
fearful joy from haphazard sharps and flats; 
then long afterward proceeded from the diatonic 
principle to the chromatic, accepted the harshest 
dissonances, and now have become reconciled to 
the audacities of Strauss and Debussy and talk 
bravely of quarter steps in the good days to come, 
— this experience of the race often finds a reduced 
analogue in that of the music lover who trustfully 
allows his appreciation of novel effects of sound to 
grow by exercise. As he becomes familiar with 
the achievements of the masters in applying to ex- 
pressive uses the endless resources of harmony, he 
is almost ready to declare, not that he is develop- 
ing a latent faculty, but acquiring a new one. He 
hears what he never heard before, and with each 
new experience his powers of observation and co- 
ordination increase. He perceives that music has 
more dimensions than he had supposed. He 
learns to delight in the collision of masses with 
masses, of the infinite gradations of tone color as 
chord impinges against chord, dissonances resolve 
into consonances, the fair-hued threads of sound 
intertwine in patterns as subtle as those woven 
upon Oriental looms, no longer seeming incoherent 
and purposeless but obedient to an intelligent will 
which brings light and order out of chaos. 

Then there is counterpoint, that austere and in- 
tricate science, the bete noire of students and ama- 
teurs. Entrance must be made into this labyrinth, 
just far enough to enable the ear to adjust itself to 

9 6 


follow a number of simultaneous melodic parts, 
and obtain the definite impression that follows the 
recognition of organized plan. The learner would 
do well to add subject, answer, counter-subject, im- 
itation, stretto, and episode to his interesting col- 
lection of technical specimens, but he need not be 
confused by a multitude of contrapuntal subtle- 
ties that do not contribute to the actual pleasure 
of his hearing. When he learns to divide his at- 
tention between two melodic progressions (a feat 
which Rousseau in a paradoxical moment pro- 
nounced impossible) he is on the borders of a new 
world; he will at last discover an unimagined 
pleasure in tracing the concurrent progress of 
three or four semi-independent parts as they wreathe 
themselves together in supple designs; he will 
wonder at the composer's skill, and the climaxes 
will produce a tenfold effect by reason of his 
ability] to follow their cumulative preparation. It 
must not be forgotten that form in itself, however 
correct, is not necessarily a beautiful thing, as we 
speak of musical beauty. The tedious sonatas 
of Czerny and the immortal sonatas of Beethoven 
are built upon the same general scheme of design, 
and the cleverest and most regular fugue may 
be unutterably dreary. The recognition of con- 
trapuntal structure is but a means to an end; the 
beauty of a fugue, like the beauty of any other musi- 
cal work, is one of melody, harmony, and rhythm, 
and the listener should keep his mind open to these, 
relying upon his acquaintance with structural de- 


vices to adjust his perceptions at the proper 

In order that the student may appreciate the 
value of a fugue he must also be taught what not 
to expect, for if he looks for the buoyant sweep- 
ing melody, stirring dance rhythms, and pungent 
harmonic contrasts of the freer modern forms, his 
disappointment will blind him to the special char- 
acteristic beauties that actually lie before him. 
Beautiful bits of melody occur incessantly in the 
fugues of Bach, but they may be called incidental < 
rather than primary, restricted by the necessity that 
compels the melodic details to contribute to the 
working out of a somewhat rigid scheme of design. 
In the nature of the case their purpose seems deco- 
rative rather than emotional. The fugue is more 
general in its expression than most other musical 
forms; it is not the natural channel for individ- 
ual feeling. Hence the contrapuntal style has al- 
ways been extensively employed in church music, 
for here the suggestion must be that of an ab- 
stract devotional mood, rather than the projection 
of an impassioned individual sentiment. As a 
means of training the ear, however, the fugue is of 
unequalled value in the appreciation of the new 
music as well as of the old, For, beginning with 
the later works of Beethoven, the polyphonic 
principle has been asserting itself more and more, 
under modified conditions, in every form of music. 
Following the modern tendency toward fulness 
and complexity and the enrichment of every detail, 


all the masters of the later time have plunged into 
the most exhaustive contrapuntal studies, and the 
works of Wagner, Brahms, Strauss, Debussy, Elgar, 
Franck are hardly less marvels of abstruse learn- 
ing than those of the great contrapuntists of the 
eighteenth century. Witness the simultaneous 
presence of the three leading themes in the Over- 
ture to "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg" — 
indeed the whole score of this drama is a repre- 
sentative instance. Hardly less in the works of 
Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Grieg, MacDowell 
— to mention only a few of the romantic group — k 
must we learn to divide our consciousness and listen 
not merely for chord masses and surface melody, 
but also for the rise and fall of inner voices. In 
songs, piano pieces, religious music, operas, cham- 
ber music, symphonies, the polyphonic method 
plays so huge a r61e that without the ability to dis- 
cover and trace the movement of simultaneous parts 
whole treasuries of expression will be locked in 
darkness, and the key that might open the casket 
lost beyond recovery. 

In view of these facts there is no more useful 
practice for the music lover who is training his 
perceptions than listening to string, 4 quartet »per- 
formances. Here are no sensational effects, no 
dazzling displays of tone color as in orchestral 
music, no overwhelming masses of sound, no vivid 
contrasts, nothing to bewilder, nothing to distract 
the attention from the melodic outlines; the physi- 
cal materials are reduced almost to the lowest 


terms. Each instrument carries on a silver thread 
of melody; each has an equal right to considera- 
tion. Success in string quartet writing involves 
the ability to handle four melodic voices with 
the utmost skill of the contrapuntist's art. The 
pleasure that the mind of the hearer receives 
greatly consists in tracing the ingenious and grace- 
ful lines as they interweave into a tissue of intri- 
cate and constantly varied patterns. He must fol- 
low four voices at once, so that no grace of melody 
or delicacy of shading on the part of any instru- 
ment shall escape his notice. This affords a con- 
clusive test by which the music lover may know 
how far the training of his ear has proceeded. 

The practical conclusion to be drawn from the 
discussion of technique and form which has hither- 
to occupied us, is that the proper hearing of music 
demands the ability to hold the attention fixedly 
for considerable periods of time upon one order 
of impressions. No argument is required to show 
that the power of close unwavering attention is the 
prime condition of any worthy intellectual ac- 
quisition. Most people are defective in this power 
of sustained observation, and there is no more 
efficient corrective than a conscientious, determined 
study of musical works through the ear. It is 
undoubtedly more difficult to attend to a succes- 
sion of auditory images than to visual images. 
This is true even in single impressions; whereas 
in music there are many simultaneous attacks 
upon the ear. Consider what it means to listen to 


an orchestral performance — to observe the con- 
current threads of melody with the multitude of 
rhythmic figures, the resulting harmonies, modu- 
lations, and changes of tonality; to identify the 
different instruments and seize the ever-shifting 
gleams of tone color in their multifarious combi- 
nations. In the concert hall the eye must suspend 
its usual activities, the mind must cease that aim- 
less wandering which is its usual occupaticm with 
all of us. Careful listening to music is an exercise 
in mental athletics, and the ability, which grows 
with discipline, to hold the volatile thought in the 
firm clutch of the will is not the least of the serious 
music student's gains. 


i \ 



Reference has already been made to the ob- 
vious fact that the impressions of music depend 
upon the abilities of an interpreter or a group of 
interpreters, added to those of the composer; that 
while an expert musician can derive considerable 
satisfaction from silent score reading, the ordinary 
music lover is in no such happy case, but must 
obtain his musical joys by the grace of certain 
people who perform in his presence for hire or 
good will. Moreover, the question of skill and 
imagination on the part of the performers enters 
so largely into the problem, that the very quality 
of beauty lies almost as much in their control as it 
does in the brain of the composer, so that to an 
inferior composition there may be imparted an 
unexpected charm, or a masterpiece be made al- 
most ridiculous. Besides this, there are elements 
of delightfulness in performance which do not 
enter into the composer's calculation at all, but 
belong to the special technique of reproduction. 
The enjoyment of music, therefore, involves an 


appreciation of the art of the performer, and the 
music lover who is undergoing education in the 
practice of listening must acquire knowledge of 
the principles and methods of playing and singing 
in their various departments. 

I have chosen to confine the discussion of these 
principles to the specific instances of piano playing 
and solo singing. A study of performance by 
orchestra, string quartet, and chorus, and upon 
violin, organ, and other instruments would involve 
a great deal of repetition, and does not seem to 
me to be required in view of the discursive purpose 
of this volume. The lover of music should cer- 
tainly become familiar with the constitution of the 
orchestra, the powers and limitations of the violin 
and organ, and the general laws that distinguish 
choral song from solo singing and orchestral play- 
ing. Instruction in these matters can easily be 
obtained by inquiries from experts, or from cer- 
tain excellent treatises which this book of mine is 
not required to duplicate. I have selected piano 
playing and solo singing because they come con- 
stantly into the music lover's experience, and be- 
cause they are typical of performance in general. 
The principles of musical expression are very 
much the same whatever the medium employed, 
and the amateur who is able to judge intelligently 
the work of a pianist or vocalist will only require 
acquaintance with a few technical matters to re- 
ceive right impressions from all the other means 
of interpretation. 



Let me pass at once, then, to the question of 
performance in general and afterward to the dis- 
cussion of the particular departments of the per- 
former's art which I have chosen. 

There are so many applications of the word art 
to activities that are diverse, from the "art" of 
swimming or fencing, to poetry or sculpture, that 
in our despair of finding a common basis for them 
all we sometimes resolve to refuse the designa- 
tion to any but a very restricted and unquestion- 
able category. When a distinct and permanent 
"work of art" is produced, one shaped out of pre- 
existing materials, designed for self-expression or 
the giving of pleasure rather than for utilitarian 
or didactic ends, or where a decorative value is 
added to practical convenience — in such prod- 
ucts of design and fancy as a memorial arch, a 
poem, a statue, a picture, a piece of music, a 
chiselled vase, or jewelled ornament — we are on 
safe ground when we speak of the laws and methods 
of fine art. 

There appears now another division of activities 
to which in common parlance the name of art is ap- 
plied, in which an impression of ordered and 
imaginative beauty is conveyed, but without any 
embodiment of the impulse in tangible or enduring 
shape. I refer to the arts of performance, such as 
dancing, acting, poetic recitation, and musical re- 
production. In what sense are these functions 
artistic? Is the term by which they are honored 
in common speech justified to the reason? 


It is evident that there is need here of still an- 
other classification. Dancing stands apart from 
the other activities mentioned in that no "work of 
art" is at hand, no score, text, or design to which 
one may refer for suggestion or comparison; the 
means of effect are bodily movements and atti- 
tudes which vanish with the moments in which 
they appear. They had, indeed, a previous ideal 
existence in the mind of the performer, and they 
have a subsequent existence in the memory of the 
spectator, but there is nothing to which the term 
form can be applied, and so far from there being 
anything concrete or tangible involved the display^ 
is a vision which comes from the void and into the 
void returns. Nevertheless it would seem pedantic 
utterly to refuse the term art to dancing in its best 
estate. It is not merely the overflow of physical 
health and vigor in moving lines of grace — it is 
not wholly sensuous, but is capable of a wide range 
of emotional expression. Among the Greeks and 
the Japanese — nations preeminently endowed with 
the love of beauty in form and movement — the 
dance was and is esteemed an art worthy of the 
supervision of the best minds — an art pleasing to 
men and gods. And although in modern times, at 
least as a stage entertainment, it has fallen from its 
former dignity, there are signs that a revival is at 
hand, and the dance, refined and regulated, may 
take a higher place than it has lately held among 
the agencies that quicken the sense of beauty and 
promote health of body and mind. 


Still less are we justified in refusing the title of 
art to the actor's craft. In certain particulars his 
work is related to that of the dancer, in that he 
employs means that are not external to himself but 
are identified with his own physical organization. 
In the use of different timbres and degrees of vocal 
force for purposes of expression he is allied to the 
singer. In his case also there is produced no 
"work of art" which survives the moment of 
presentation. The actor stands apart from the 
dancer and undoubtedly above him, in that the 
actor's whole aim is to present in visible and audi- 
ble guise conceptions of the mind which have al- 
ready been put into permanent literary form. 
This work of literary art, however, is not yet com- 
plete; an essential element is lacking. A play is 
not a literary work merely; the actor adds an ele- 
ment which fulfils the intention of the author, 
and in so doing he shows himself not a mechanical 
imitator but a collaborator who contributes some- 
thing individual and original. Many effective 
plays could be named in which, during entire 
scenes, the poetic idea is largely conveyed by 
vocal timbre, facial expression, attitude, gesture, 
and the various details known as "business," the 
words alone seeming to offer nothing very signifi- 
cant. Indeed, complete plays, such as the famous 
V Enfant prodigue, have been performed in dumb 
show, plays abounding in incident, with interest- 
ing development of plot and character. Let one 
read the text of the scene in which Macbeth, with 


his mind keyed to its murderous intent, has the 
hallucination of a dagger in the air. One may 
read the lines and not be greatly moved; but let 
one witness the scene as realized in the actual pre- 
sentment by a competent actor, and it will ap- 
pear that the poet's words are hardly more than a 
suggestion from which the player creates a terri- 
ble picture of a man in whose soul ambition, fear, 
compassion, and incipient remorse are fiercely con- 
tending. A painter might portray Macbeth at this 
moment and his picture would be a work of art; 
the actor's performance is likewise the outcome of- 
thought, design, adaptation of means to an end 
first conceived in the imagination, lacking only the 
element of permanence in some form that can be 
touched and reproduced in a copy. None, the 
less is it art, for the poet's words are but symbols 
and indications; they are tame and cold until the 
actor, employing vocal sounds and bodily organs 
as material, brings the thought in its fulness to the 
eye and ear of the beholder. 

The arts of poetry, painting, and sculpture, there- 
fore, reproduce phenomena of nature and human 
emotion with something added, viz., the person- 
ality of the artist. The actor's craft is an art by 
second intention, in which literary expression, al- 
ready reproduction, passes through a second proc- 
ess, and becomes subject to another addition. Each 
process is art, because something preexisting in 
more or less crude and unorganized form is worked 
over by a new application of emotion and contriv- 
ance into a beautiful embodiment of an idea. 


Now music as an art is nearly allied to the drama 
in that the work of the original creator remains in 
abeyance, in an embryo state we might say, await- 
ing the second birth through which it enters into 
completeness of life. This subsequent activity 
under the hands of the performer is likewise a re- 
sult of artistic contrivance; we call it reproductive, 
but like the actor's portrayal it is much more than 
that. The performer is not concerned simply with 
transmitting the intention of the composer — the 
composition is a medium by which he confides to 
his hearers an emotion that has become his own. 
It is well enough to say as a counsel of moderation 
that the player or singer should lay aside self- 
consciousness and love of personal display and 
devote himself to the interpretation of the com- 
poser's thought, but in fact, since he is himself 
endowed with a musical temperament, with the 
craving for self-expression that belongs to every 
normal human being, he cannot efface himself and 
become literally and completely the author's tool. 
His very constitution that turns him to the study 
and practice of music implies a certain likeness 
between his impulse and that of the composer. 
The bkck symbols upon the page are transmuted 
into living voices. The performer forgets that they 
have been loaned to him to use as the composer's 
representative, he conceives them as his own; they 
are his own for the moment, and if he be truly a 
master he persuades the hearer into the same belief. 

In this process the performer, of course, ex- 
presses himself not as he is in the constant rela- 


tions of daily life, but as he is in the mood of exal- 
tation excited by the touch of the music. His effort, 
like that of the actor, is the deliberately imaginative 
one of identifying himself with the work in hand. 
There is a sort of double consciousness at work. 
Without the loss of self-control and the power of 
instant adaptation of means to ends, he sinks him- 
self in the substance of the composition and lives 
its life, which for the time being is the whole of 
life for him. This is the explanation of the power 
of great performers upon the stage or the concert 
platform. The player feels no difference between 
the role or the music and his own personality. 
What was external has become internal. There is 
a large margin of self-determination allowed him; 
the author's conception is given to him tempo- 
rarily for his personal use, and he making it his 
own remoulds it nearer to his heart's desire. 

No other art, not even the drama, is so depend- 
ent upon a mediator as music. Music unper- 
formed is a dead thing, and there is no medium 
into which it can be translated. On the musical 
staff the notes are stationary; they imply motion 
but they do not move. The rapidity of the suc- 
cession of sounds, their grouping and shading, 
are determined to a large extent by the player's 
thought. The composer, to be sure, gives all the 
general directions in regard to tempo, dynamics, 
etc., and there are certain principles and traditions 
which are generally accepted and handed down by 
authority; but in art, laws are very frequently re- 


pealed, and precedents have no power of self-en- 
forcement In spite of all checks and balances 
the composer is quite at the performer's mercy. 
Wagner attributed the failure of the "Tannhau- 
ser" overture at its first performance at Leipzig 
to the lack of understanding of the work on the 
part of the conductor. Franz Liszt, in one of his 
Travel Letters of a Bachelor of Music, complains 
bitterly of the misunderstanding on the part of 
the audience from which composers often suffer by 
reason of unintelligent performance. "The poet, 
the painter, or the sculptor," he says, " brings his 
work to completion in the quiet of his atelier, and 
when it is completed, there are publishers to circu- 
late it, or museums in which it may be exhibited; 
no mediation is necessary between the art work 
and its judges. The composer, on the other hand, 
must have recourse to interpreters who are often 
incompetent or indifferent, and make him suffer 
by reason of a rendering that is perhaps true to 
the letter, but utterly fails to reveal the thought of 
the work and the genius of the author." 

We have all heard pianists who were easily mas- 
ters of every mechanical difficulty, but whose play- 
ing was cold and monotonous. Nothing is more 
common in musical criticism than the complaint 
that a certain pianist has failed to grasp the essen- 
tial mood of a musical work or the spirit of a 
composer. This player, it may be said, is a mas- 
ter of technique, but he should not try to play 
Chopin. Another is at home in the late romantic 


school, but he has no proper conception of Bach or 
Beethoven. Another turns a bold and passionate 
fancy of Schumann into a bit of sentimental trifling. 
Another, inferior to many in brilliancy, illuminates 
everything he plays, and imparts to long familiar 
compositions an unsuspected eloquence. As the 
works of the great composers pass through the 
hands of skilled and sympathetic performers they 
are constantly revealing new beauties. A pianist 
who is on the road to mastership, and even after 
he has attained that exalted degree, keeps certain 
great works constantly before him, and as the years 
go on his playing of them is more or less insen- 
sibly modified, changing with his mental growth, 
with his experience of life and art. Alexander 
McArthur tells us that a pupil once protested to 
Rubinstein that since he knew the "Waldstein" 
sonata thoroughly he did not need to practise it 
any longer. "Don't you?" said Rubinstein sadly; 
"Well, you are eighteen and I am sixty. I have 
been half a century practicing that sonata and 
I need still to practice it. I congratulate you." 
No thought here on the part of the great Russian 
that a musical piece is a finality whose repro- 
duction requires only technical dexterity and obe- 
dience to rules. I can even conceive it possible 
that a musical work may take a deeper place in 
the soul of a student than it had in the mind of its 
author. Handel would probably be much aston- 
ished if he knew the uses to which his "Largo" 
(originally a song to a plane tree in his opera 


"Xerxes") has been put. One who has felt his 
whole being quiver under Mischa Elman's mar- 
velous performance of Schubert's "Ave Maria" 
may easily believe that the composer's intention 
was more than fulfilled. Anton Seidl, it is said, 
could not conduct the last movement of Tchai- 
kovsky's "Symphonie pathetique" without tears. 
Was Seidl simply following the directions of the 
score, and was the result only a matter of formal 
prescription and drill ? When the orchestra, sub- 
missive to his will, extorted the very last throb of 
anguish from those amazing chords, had Seidl no 
share in the creative act? If one denies that he 
had, perhaps it would be convincing to hear the 
work (as was once my misfortune) performed by 
an orchestra as competent as Seidl's, but led by a 
conductor inferior to him not only in musicianship, 
but also in imagination and sensitiveness of heart. 
It has become a frequent complaint among the 
musical critics of the press that pianists as a rule 
refuse to present new works to the public, confin- 
ing their programs to a limited range of standard 
compositions of masters who are dead. There 
is good ground for this dissatisfaction on the part 
of those who have the progressive interests of art 
in view. It is probable, however, that the gener- 
ality of listeners are contented with this condition 
and there are certain obvious reasons why they are 
so. There is one possible explanation that is not 
quite so obvious, and that is that every famous 
work is in one sense a novelty when performed by a 


great pianist. "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet." 
supremely great as they are as literary works, 
would hardly maintain their attracting power gen- 
eration after generation if their leading r61es were 
always acted in precisely the same manner in every 
detail. It is not simply "Hamlet" or "Romeo and 
Juliet" that one goes to see, but Forbes-Robert- 
son's Hamlet, it may be, or Julia Marlowe's Juliet 
And so when a veteran concert goer pays his fee 
to hear a famous pianist play the " Sonata Appas- 
sionata" or Schumann's Concerto, it is not merely 
to hear an old work, every note of which he can 
anticipate, but a work renewed under the in- 
dividual treatment of the player. From Harold 
Bauer he will receive one impression, from Pach- 
mann another, from Careno another, from Mrs. 
Zeisler or Hofmann or Godowski a "reading" that 
is different still. No performance of a classic is 
ever final. There is always something to be said 
by the next comer. There are two factors in the 
exhibition, and the second can never be calculated. 
The charm of musical performance is partly the 
charm of surprise. Zola defined a work of art 
as a bit of nature seen through a temperament. 
In music, as in a drama, there is a second inter- 
mediary stage, and in playing, singing, or conduct- 
ing we have a work of art seen through a tempera- 
ment. The performer receives the work from the 
author, and when he gives it forth again it has un- 
dergone a mysterious change. It has not simply 
been touched with new color, it has been quickened 
with a new spirit. 



In all this there may be found, I think, the reply 
to those who protest against the "star system. ,, 
They are right, of course, when admiration of the 
star means indifference to the composition, or if 
that admiration is directed solely to mere tricks 
of virtuosity. But they are wrong if they over- 
look the fact that the star is or may be also an 
artist who creates the work anew at every represen- 
tation; that in music the work and the perform- 
ance cannot be separated in consciousness; that 
the greater the performance the greater the work. 

The lover of music finds, therefore, that he 
must know something of the laws of performance 
as well as the laws of composition. What is good 
playing and good singing? he will ask. In what 
is one executant superior to another? Are there 
rules by which judgment can be guided? An in- 
telligent person does not wish to applaud a de- 
fective performance any more than he is content to 
enjoy a poor composition. He wants not only an 
opinion of his own, but also reasons with which to 
confirm it. The hopeless differences of view among 
his critical friends over the merits of this or that 
performer may perhaps give him pause by show- 
ing him that infallibility is not attainable. This is 
true, however, in all art matters; it does not fol- 
low that there are no principles by which one may 
be guided to safe and sane conclusions. 

The music lover whom I have in mind in all 
these discussions is called, not so much to bestow 
awards of praise or censure, as to observe, appreci- 
ate, and enjoy. The appraisal of values, leading to 


judgments, will follow enlightenment, but inquiry 
must come first. The question, therefore, is similar 
to that which we have already considered in our 
study of form and composition — what does musi- 
cal performance offer us? What are we to look 
for in playing or singing? And also— following 
the line which we have opened in the beginning of 
this chapter — what does the performer add out 
of his own taste, knowledge, and genius? What 
does he do that is not commanded him by the 
composer? Then, finally, what is the distinction 
between good and evil in musical reproduction R 

Taking piano playing as a type of musical per- 
formance in general, for reasons already given, we 
have now to ask — in what respect is the pianist 
an artist? What is his part in determining the 
character of a composition as it reaches the lis- 
tener's ear? He has before him a number of 
leaves of paper on which are printed certain black 
characters, most of them notes and rests, others 
consisting of indications for delivery. A very 
slight consideration shows that the notes and other 
conventional signs whigh compose a musical score 
direct the player's action up to a certain point and 
there leave him. There are slight variations of 
tone length, regulations of speed from moment 
to moment, contrasts and blendings of shades, re- 
fined use of the pedals, subtleties of phrasing — in a 
word, a host of sensitive adjustments which con- 
stitute expression and impart life, buoyancy, and 
finesse. These cannot be indicated with precision 



by the system of notation as it now exists. Fort- 
unate indeed are we that it is so, for were it other- 
wise the player's task would afford but little in- 
spiration; two pianists of equal technical skill 
would produce exactly the same effect. The in- 
exhaustible charm of the masterworks, however, 
lies largely in the fact that no such mechanical 
reiteration is possible. The most stolid piano 
thumper that ever tormented a critical audience 
must give something that has not precisely existed 
before. His performance, as Touchstone said of 
Audrey, may be a poor thing but it is his own. 
On the other hand if the pianist is a man of genius 
we have the splendid spectacle of two original 
forces at work. Liszt's playing of Beethoven, 
writes Wagner, "was not mere reproduction, but 
real production." There is fire in every great 
work, but it is latent and must be rekindled under 
the breath of the player's will. 

It may be necessary to remind the reader at this 
point (and I ask him to bear it in mind all through 
this discussion) that the determination of the play- 
er in regard to the "reading" of musical works is 
very plainly, one may say narrowly, restricted. 
His freedom is not license. No capricious or 
spasmodic renderings are to be tolerated. Mau- 
passant's injunction to the novelist — "give us 
something fine according to your temperament" — 
may be applied to the pianist, but he must remem- 
ber that it will not be fine unless it conforms to 
the eternal laws of art. He must look up to the 


composer as his master. His work must be chast- 
ened by reverence. He must not wilfully push 
his own personality into the foreground, and by 
a false straining after originality, by mannerisms 
and exaggerations, do violence to the author's in- 
tentions. He has many guides in history, scholar- 
ship, and tradition that must be respected. This 
side of the vexed question of the pianist's duty will 
be considered later; meanwhile a recognition of it 
must be held in reserve while we go on to consider 
the privileges of the player as an original thinker. 

In a letter discussing certain points in piano 
playing Edward MacDowell once wrote, "Black 
notes on white paper are the despair of composers. " 
He meant by this that our system of notation is 
incomplete, so that while the composer can show 
what notes are to be sounded, he is only partly 
able to indicate in what manner they are to be 
sounded, and consequently is more or less at the 
mercy of the performer. I have tried to prove that 
the art gains more than it loses by this state of 
things, and that the world of performers and mu- 
sic lovers will never share the composer's regret. 
Let us now come close to details, and taking the 
words of MacDowell as a text inquire just what are 
the elements of performance that cannot be set 
down in black notes on white paper. 

Take first the question of tempo. The com- 
poser puts at the head of his piece a direction, con- 
sisting of a word or two, which shows his wish 
as to the general rate of speed, such as Adagio, 


Andante, Allegro. No one supposes that these 
or other expressions of the same nature signify 
an exact number of beats to the minute. Adagio 
means slowly or leisurely, but the Italian word 
is as indefinite as the English. Andante may 
indicate one pace to one person, another to an- 
other, and to the same person it will vary with 
the composition. Wagner explains that there are 
two kinds of Allegro movement, each requiring a 
special kind of treatment. Sebastian Bach did not 
put directions for tempo at the head of his pieces; 
who shall determine at what rate of speed they 
should be played? Metronome marks are more 
exact, but they are far from being an infallible 
reliance. At the most they indicate the general 
movement of a composition, not the alterations 
that must constantly occur. They often serve as 
fetters to players or conductors that submit to them. 
Wagner at one time made extensive use of them 
in his dramas, but afterward decided that it was 
best on the whole to leave the question of tempo 
to the taste and musicianship of the conductor. 

The amount of time to be occupied in the per- 
formance of a composition as a whole is, however, 
the easiest part of the problem. Rarely does a 
piece of considerable length or variety of style re- 
quire an exactly uniform rate of motion from be- 
ginning to end. The beauty of an interpretation 
consists to a very large extent in the varying de- 
grees of speed in the different divisions, periods, 
and phrases. It is the feature to which the com- 


poser gives the least thought in his orders to the 
player, and consequently it is in this particular that 
pianists are most at variance with one another. 
Nowhere else are taste and judgment more in de- 
mand than here; nowhere else are perversions and 
eccentricities more abundant. Condemnations by 
critics of the " conceptions" of players or con- 
ductors will be found in the great majority of cases 
to apply to tempo. Wagner goes so far as to say 
that "the whole duty of a conductor is comprised 
in his ability always to indicate the right tempo. 
His choice of tempi will show whether he under- 
stands the piece or not. With good players the 
true tempo induces correct phrasing and expres- 
sion." The determination of the "true tpmpo," 
however, is not so easy. "I have often been aston- 
ished," says Wagner again, "at the singularly 
slight sense for tempo and execution evinced by 
leading musicians." In spite of uncertainty in 
the practical application of the principle of speed 
variation, in the privilege itself is found the ele- 
ment which gives to music its delightful suggestion 
of ease, grace, and elasticity. A too rigid tempo 
gives a suggestion of friction, of resistance some- 
where; a flexible tempo is motion as free, confi- 
dent, and joyous as the flowing of winds or ocean 
tides. Those buoyant fluctuations of movement 
that we hear in a masterly performance, those un- 
expected contrasts, those languishing retards, those 
fiery accelerations, those delicate balancings of 
phrase against phrase, those affectionate lingerings 


upon lovely modulations, those almost impercepti- 
ble delays as if to give a beautiful chord a little 
more time to resound along the corridors of the 
memory, those tender caressing familiarities, those 
impetuous defiances, all those bold liberties which 
prove the tone masses submissive to the player's 
will, the direct manifestation of his emotion — how 
eloquent, how illuminating they are! 

That the composer should say to the player that 
here and here, and thus and thus, shall he make 
these expressive alterations of speed is impossible. 
Rarely does he attempt to do so. Here and there 
he will write ritardando or accelerando, but pre- 
cisely how much slower or faster, or exactly at 
what instant these changes begin, cannot be indi- 
cated. In the wide spaces of the piece, however, 
no directions are given. The composer implicitly 
says to the player: In the matter of tempo I put 
myself in your hands, your musicianship is the arbi- 
ter; if my music sounds dull and monotonous you 
must take a part or the whole of the blame, if other- 
wise a goodly share of the honor shall be yours. 

It is well known that it is Chopin who has 
brought the beauty that lies in tempo modification 
most palpably into notice, and that under the 
title tempo rubato, or " stolen time," it has become, 
we might say, self-conscious. These liberties, 
however, are not as lawless as the term would 
seem to imply, for the alterations of tempo that 
give elasticity to a performance are so adjusted and 
balanced in good playing that the sense of poise 



is never lost. Like all other elements of expres- 
sion they must be regulated by conscious artistic 
purpose. The very nature of Chopin's music im- 
plies this freedom of movement, but it is now 
granted, although in less degree, in the works of the 
classk masters. Even in Bach's fugues, where a 
machine-like stiffness once passed for orthodoxy, 
a more natural and human treatment is allowed. 
That this liberty may be abused we all know. 
There are agreements among musicians that have 
acquired the binding force of laws, and must not be 
violated at the player's caprice. A prelude by 
Bach or an adagio by Beethoven is of a more rigid 
mould than a nocturne by Chopin and must be 
rendered with more sobriety and reserve. The 
player must constantly remind himself that free- 
dom in tempo does not mean unsteadiness, and 
that the rate of speed in each phrase does not de- 
pend solely upon its own separate interest, but still 
more upon its relation to its companion phrases. 
We must ha,ve in music a sense of equilibrium, of 
stability. A careless, spasmodic hurrying and re- 
tarding leads only to flabbiness and inconsequence. 
The second of the constituents of expression 
that rest mainly upon the player's determination 
consists in differences of loudness and softness, 
also known as nuance, or light and shade. The 
composer makes a rather liberal use of the marks 
for different degrees of force, such as f., p., sf., cres., 
dim., but every pianist knows that it is for himself 
to decide just how these signs shall be interpreted, 


and also that his performance must be full of ac- 
cents and modifications of tone volume which the 
writer does not attempt to indicate. Composers 
differ greatly in the abundance of their dynamic 
signs, but at the best they can do no more than 
suggest the relative values of these changes, while 
the absolute values, the exact amount of force, de- 
pend upon the player's physical command of tone, 
the construction of his instrument, and still more 
upon his musical feeling and judgment. Even 
the extreme marks pp. (softest) and ff. (loudest) 
are indefinite. The softest possible and the loudest 
possible are never indulged in by a player of dis- 
cretion. Not only must fortissimo be subjected to 
the final law of tone beauty (in spite of the fact 
that this law is often grossly violated by famous 
pianists) but its degrees vary greatly according to 
circumstances. A rapid run in single notes cannot 
possibly be made as loud as a detached chord, 
although the composer may use the ff. sign for both. 
On the other hand, the softest possible tone would 
be inaudible except perhaps to the performer him- 
self. If these extreme signs are so inexact, what 
shall be said of the grades between, only a few 
of which are designated by the composer? The 
printed dynamic signs are like the more obvious 
elevations and depressions in a distant landscape — 
innumerable are the undulations between. 

Even the signs which the composer takes pains 
to insert are often ignored by the player, some- 
times justly, sometimes unjustly. I have heard 


Anton Rubinstein make a diminuendo in a Beetho- 
ven sonata where the author had written a cres- 
cendo, and vice versa. What pianist ever ends 
Chopin's delicate F sharp Impromptu with a 
crash, as the composer seems to demand? Mr. 
W. S. B. Mathews tells that he once prepared a 
class for MacDowelPs "March Wind," which the 
composer was to play in public, that he carefully 
called attention to every nuance in the piece, and 
that to his consternation MacDowell played it fortis- 
simo from beginning to end. The composer, cer- 
tainly, has a larger privilege in respect to his own 
work than the ordinary performer, but this instance 
shows that he does not always attach the same seri- 
ousness to the expression marks that he does to 
the notes, and that within certain limits they may 
be considered as suggestive and provisional rather 
than arbitrary. 

After all, it is the broader, more general scheme 
of light and shade that is furnished by the com- 
poser. The finer gradations, those subtle and im- 
measurable modifications of dynamic value which 
make a composition a palpitating, coruscating 
thing of beauty, are wholly under the player's will. 
The simplest piece is inexhaustible in the oppor- 
tunities it affords for tone variety. Listen to a 
rapid, clearly articulated scale, filled with undu- 
lating crescendos and diminuendos and rhythmic 
accents. Listen to a surging double arpeggio, its 
waves of tone rising and falling as majestically as 
the billows of the sea. Or a series of pure sonorous 


chords, pressed with a perfect adaptation of the 
fingers in order to secure solidity and balance, with 
a melody singing brightly upon their surface. Or 
a skein of delicate filaments of sound, with a single 
rich tone ringing through them like the far-away 
call of a horn. These things are among the lux- 
uries of sensation, and unlike many luxuries they 
bring no surfeit. 

The study of these effects is for the pianist the 
task of a lifetime. The desire for tone beauty 
must be a veritable passion if he is ever to attain 
true artistry. Not less must the music lover ap- 
preciate its worth, ever be quick to detect it, and 
train his perceptions to respond to the most deli- 
cate gradations in beautiful sound both in nature 
and in art. 

"The tone sustained with equal power," said 
Wagner, "is the basis of all expression." This 
was said of vocal and orchestral music, and al- 
though an evenly sustained tone is impossible with 
the piano (since by reason of the mechanism the 
tone diminishes from the instant it is struck) yet it 
has always hovered before the minds of the great 
players as an ideal, the very longing for it affect- 
ing their touch and treatment. To prolong the 
short and relatively dry tone of the piano to the 
greatest possible extent has always been the aim of 
manufacturers; but the limit is soon reached, and 
players are often forced to fall back upon a system 
of disguises and pretences, the instrument assuming 
a virtue that it does not possess. In gaining the 


notion of sustained tone without the actuality the 
listener's fancy works as well as that of the player. 
He is more credulous than any speculator. He 
wishes to be deceived. There are even ways by 
which a tone may apparently be made to swell after 
being struck — an effect that is very beautiful, 
and legitimate because beautiful. 

We speak of a pianist's "singing touch" as one 
of his most admirable merits. There is no more 
frequent injunction at the present day than that the 
tone must have a pure singing quality, no matter 
how rapid, intricate, or violent the passage may be. 
"Do not think of striking your notes," exclaimed 
Rubinstein, "think of singing them!" This in- 
junction forbids the short, dry, unsympathetic 
tone one often hears, as well as the harsh, brassy, 
clanging stroke in which even reputable players 
often indulge. In piano playing as well as in 
orchestral and violin playing the pure, rich, sus- 
tained tone of the human voice at its best must 
be the standard. 

This problem involves also that of quality or 
timbre in piano tone, in respect to which there 
are many delusions abroad. It would be easy to 
show that the player has but very slight power — 
perhaps none at all — of altering the quality of tone 
by his way of pressing the keys, that force and 
duration are the only elements he can control by 
his touch alone, leaving out the modification that 
can be effected by the pedals. Nevertheless there 
is a vast difference in sheer sensuous tone beauty 


in the playing of different pianists. This is not the 
place to explain all the causes of these differences. 
They consist mainly, perhaps wholly, in extremely 
minute shades and degrees of blending and con- 
trasting the two elements of duration and loudness. 
The love of color and the thought of color will, 
however, strongly influence the touch in piano 
music. Hans von Biilow sometimes suggested to 
his pupils that they think here and there of a flute, 
a 'cello or a horn. No one knew better than he 
that a pianist cannot in the least imitate the timbre 
of any orchestral instrument; piano tone is piano 
tone and never anything else. But the thought of 
an instrument so luscious in quality and so full in 
sustaining power as a 'cello or a horn would in- 
sensibly affect the touch and the disposal of dy- 
namic relations. This modern emphasis upon tone 
color in piano playing is one manifestation of the 
universal demand for sensuous beauty in all art 
which is so marked a feature of our time. Color 
in painting, color in photography, color in orches- 
tration, color in singing, color in piano playing — 
these are the response to the quickened sensitive- 
ness of eye and ear which every new chromatic in- 
vention in picture or music helps in turn to promote. 
Artists even speak of color in an etching or en- 
graving, meaning of course that color is suggested. 
And so in piano playing tone color is suggested, 
the mind is stimulated so that it impulsively throws 
over the music a sort of prismatic veil which is 
none the less delightful for being so largely an 


illusion. Art is full of suggestion, and it asks the 
beholder to cooperate with the producer. The 
whitest pigment is a thousand degrees less bright 
than sunlight, but De Hoogh and Turner and 
Monet paint sunlight to the perfect satisfaction of 
the observer. It is one of the wonders of music 
that an instrument essentially so cold and mono- 
chromatic as the piano can take on so many lovely 
tints and reenforce melody and harmony with 
sounds so delicious to the sensual ear. Of all this 
the composer, with his black notes on white paper, 
gives but a remote intimation. It is the contribu- 
tion of the performer in his capacity of artist. N 
Another means of obtaining beautiful changes of 
tone color, to which the listener should attend, is 
in the use of the pedals. A master is known i by his 
pedalling as well as by the exploits of his fingers. 
The composer or editor may, of course, set down 
pedal marks, but they are at the best inadequate, 
often inexact, and an experienced player gives 
little or no heed to them. Even to an immature 
performer they are an awkward kind of assistance 
and the sooner he learns to do without them the 
better. An accomplished pianist simply conceives 
a certain tone effect and employs the pedal for the 
production of that effect. He subjects tone ad- 
justment by means of the pedals to an elaborate 
analysis, until at last, with the growth of experience, 
his pedalling becomes a second nature, and his 
foot responds to his thought as automatically as 
his hand. 



The question now arises, What is it that the 
pedals do? There is probably no other feature 
in piano playing that is so misunderstood, not 
only by the general public but also by piano stu- 
dents. The pedal that is managed by the right 
foot is persistently called the "loud pedal," which 
designation is a complete misnomer. It is easy 
to see, if one thinks about it, that the damper 
pedal cannot possibly make the sounds louder. 
The degree of loudness in the case of a sounding 
string depends upon the amplitude of the vibra- 
tions, and in piano music the amplitude of the vi- 
brations depends upon the amount of force with 
which the hammer comes against the string. When 
a single key is struck and the pedal is not pressed, 
a damper rises; when the pedal is pressed, all the 
dampers in the instrument are raised. This can- 
not affect the amplitude of the vibrations. Every 
player knows that the damper pedal enables him to 
continue the tone after his finger has left the key, 
— the most important mechanical invention in the 
history of the art, for without it our magnificent 
treasure of piano music, founded by Beethoven, 
could never have come into existence. 

But the damper pedal* as I have already inti- 
mated, does more than sustain the tones that are 
struck; it makes them more rich and sympathetic to 
the ear and enables the player to obtain variety of 
tone color. It is easy to see how this is done. Every 
musical tone is compound instead of simple. A 
fundamental tone, indicated by a note upon the staff 


and produced by the vibration of the whole string, 
contains also other tones made by vibrations of 
parts of the string. These " resultant tones," " over- 
tones/' " harmonics/ ' or "upper partials," as they 
are variously called, cannot ordinarily be distin- 
guished from the fundamental tone, but they color 
it, imparting its peculiar quality or timbre. In a 
violin or clarinet these overtones are very promi- 
nent; in a flute or organ diapason pipe they are 
much less so. In the piano they are to be reck- 
oned with. Put the damper pedal down and all 
the dampers are raised. That leaves all the strings 
free or "open," and some that are not struck will 
vibrate slightly by reason of the impingement upon 
them of the secondary air waves that are stirred by 
the string that is struck by the hammer. ' The 
strings whose vibration thus produced can be heard 
by the normal ear are those of the octave, the 
twelfth, and the second octave above the smitten 
string, and in a fine grand piano perhaps one or 
two more. It follows that the sounds that come 
from a piano are richer in quality when the dam- 
per pedal is used than when it is idle. 

The soft pedal, which has but recently, compar- 
atively speaking, come into its own as a means of 
tone beauty, does not merely make the sounds 
softer, it alters their timbre. In a grand piano it 
makes the hammer strike two strings instead of 
three; that alone would produce a modification 
of the tone, while at the same time the third string, 
although not touched, vibrates sympathetically 


with a delicate, veiled, shimmering quality that gives 
a peculiar mellow and sympathetic effect to the 
combined impression. The soft pedal takes from 
the instrument its characteristic brilliancy, afford- 
ing such contrasts that the player will often em- 
ploy it even with a strong touch, carrying the 
special effect produced by this apparatus into broad 
sonorous tone masses. 

The study of the pianist in the use of the damper 
pedal, in spite of its coloristic possibilities, lies 
chiefly in its function as a tone-sustaining con- 
trivance. The piano is unique among instruments 
in its ability to prolong tones when the player's 
fingers are busy with new ones, and the opportuni- 
ties thus afforded for variety, fulness, and grandeur 
of tone effect are numberless. To press and re- 
lease the pedal at exactly the proper instant, to 
produce continuity of sound with never the slightest 
confusion in the harmonies, to blend, distribute, 
and contrast all the varieties of tone color that are 
latent in the instrument without excess or barren- 
ness, and to do all this without losing distinctness 
of articulation or blurring the outline of the rhyth- 
mic figure — here b. a field of endless study for 
the player and deligLc to the appreciative listener. 
A pianist is indeed a past master of the art of pedal- 
ling when the most greedy ear is satisfied and the 
most sensitive ear can detect no flaw. 

Last to be considered among the contributions 
made by the player is phrasing. This term signi- 
fies the disclosure to the ear of the rhythmic struct- 


ure of a piece. The firm metrical basis and the 
intricate rhythmic figuration must be as distinctly 
in the consciousness of the player as in that of the 
composer. All the rhythmic laws of musical art 
must be familiar to him in practice if not in theory, 
and his skill of hand must so reenforce his sense of 
structural design that the listener will never be for 
a moment in doubt concerning the essential factors 
in the tonal ebb and flow. Under the player's 
hand the entanglements of the interwoven threads 
are unravelled. All becomes clear, symmetrical, 
orderly. He imparts to the music a suggestion of 
naturalness, of spontaneity; there is poise, buoy- 
ancy, and balance; there is the ecstasy of vibration, 
the throb of life. This art requires incessant study 
and the most vigilant care. There have beeti pian- 
ists, such as Hans von Billow, who were especially 
distinguished for their clear-cut scholarly phras- 
ing, other elements of effect being often sacri- 
ficed to that. Other players, who have delighted 
more in masses of sound and splendid tonal con- 
trasts, have not taken such extreme pains to make 
every thread of tissue evident. We seem to have 
here two classes of pianists — the scholarly, reflec- 
tive, and analytical, with an extremely refined sense 
of form; and the bold, impetuous, and impression- 
istic, whose minds are intent upon the broader 
lights and shades and masses rather than upon 
minute dissection. The first love to make the work 
transparent, holding to the light every detail of 
organization. The second will often obscure detail 


for the sake of breadth, concentration, and color. 
Either tendency in excess leaves something to be 
desired; the consummate artist of the keyboard will 
grant to every means of beauty its true measure, 
not sacrificing the mass for the sake of the parts 
nor the parts for the sake of the mass. He will 
finish each item cleanly, but will remember that 
motives and phrases, like the lines and colors of a 
painting, find their value not in isolation and de- 
tachment, but in their relation to one another and 
to the whole. 

There are four means by which the structural 
grouping of tones is made apparent, viz. accents, 
alternations of longer and shorter tones, breaks in 
the succession of sounds (including phrasing by the 
damper pedal), and crescendo and diminuendo. 
In the application of these rhythmic devices the 
player is certainly more restricted than in the mod- 
ification of tempo or in shading. It is a matter 
of knowledge with him, of musical scholarship, 
rather than of personal preference. That is to say, 
tempo and shading are very greatly subject to the 
player's feeling and imagination, and may measur- 
ably differ in the performance of the same compo- 
sition by the same player at different times, or under 
the hands of players who are unlike one another in 
temperament. Phrasing, however, is either right 
or wrong; within the successions of melodies and 
harmonies there dwells the essential rhythmic de- 
sign dictated by the inherent laws of musical con- 
struction. There is the metrical foundation es- 


tablished by the beat and the measure grouping, 
while the rhythmic figuration springs from it in 
tropical luxuriance. Both alike must be rescued 
from confusion and when offered to the ear brought 
under the control of artistic design. In effecting 
this the player must chiefly rely upon his scholar- 
ship and his musical instinct, for the means which 
the composer possesses for indicating the proper 
phrasing are very incomplete. This fact is made 
evident by the numerous and bewildering books 
on rhythm and the phrased editions of the classic 
composers — the product of an outlay of labor and 
thought of which the layman has little conception 
An extensive knowledge of rhythmic laws and of the 
peculiar rhythmic styles of the great piano com- 
posers must be a part of the mental equipment of 
the pianist. In the digital analysis of the intricate 
minutiae of structure the performer must give a 
multitude of accents not indicated in the general 
metrical scheme — he must often vary the time 
values of individual notes, must make breaks in 
the tone current which are not marked in the score, 
must use crescendo and diminuendo for the stirring 
of the rhythmic waves to their progressive rise and 
fall. The curving lines, or slurs, which abound 
in musical scores are sometimes employed as 
phrasing signs by composers, but so irregularly and 
with such disregard of system that the player who 
should direct his phrasing by them would produce 
the most unhappy results. Even the elucidations 
of scholarly editors do not always agree. It is only 


by a highly developed rhythmic sense, a firm grasp 
of musical structure, years of study and experience, 
a technique so perfect that in the most rapid and 
difficult passages every shade of tone and every 
variety of touch are under complete control, that a 
performer is able to solve all the mysteries of the 
phrasing art and become infallibly true to those 
laws of form that give to musical works their com- 
plex order, their inner logic, their plastic grace, and 
their architectonic strength. 

The player who makes an intelligent study of 
rhythm will not confine his analysis to the smaller 
groupings of period and section and phrase, but 
will also attend to the larger divisions in which 
these are contained; he will hold in his mind the 
entire framework of the piece and will give to his 
hearers an impression of solidity and mutual sup- 
port among the parts. In this, the highest grade 
of rhythmic interpretation, there will be heard 
marked dissimilarities among players. One will 
unravel the texture with the utmost care, separat- 
ing the phrases and rounding off the outlines of 
all the details with an almost finical nicety, at the 
same time so regardless of the larger unity that the 
work will appear like a mosaic of brilliant spots 
with no suggestion of continuous development and 
comprehensive organization. I have heard the 
first movement of Beethoven's " Sonata Appassio- 
nata" so treated — each phrase highly polished but 
no grasp of the movement in its vast reach and 
cumulative force. It was an affected, self-conscious 


performance; the fierce onrush, which should be 
like that of a river at the spring flood, checked and 
diverted by an over-desire for finish. It was 
"faultily faultless," like Tennyson's Maud. A 
master player will grasp the work in its entirety; 
while giving the characteristic beauty to each 
feature, he will have the complete form distinctly 
present in his mind, so that every passage will be 
a preparation for that which is to follow and a con- 
sequence of that which has gone before. He will 
also apprehend the essential emotional character 
of the composition — passionate, merry, languish- 
ing, solemn, pathetic, or whatever it may be — an4 
every phrase will receive its proper treatment as a 
contributing factor in the larger purpose. 

Perfection of phrasing might be said to 'be the 
supreme sign of mastership, since it is closely united 
with control of tempo and shading. Furthermore, 
it implies large executive resources, for if a pian- 
ist plays up to the limit of his technique an ar- 
tistic command of phrasing, nuance, and tempo 
will surely be wanting. There will be a suggestion 
of effort, perhaps of strain, and the sign of this, 
even where no false notes are struck, will be a 
lack of clearness and freedom in shading and 
phrasing. But when the performer is able, at 
any chosen tempo and in spite of every technical 
difficulty, to present the work in its true emotional 
atmosphere, luminous in every detail, perfectly ar- 
ticulated and balanced, buoyant with conscious re- 
serve of power, rejoicing in freedom while obedient 


to law, then the grateful auditor will be ready to 
confer the degree of artist summa cum laude. 

In what has been said thus far it may seem that 
too much stress has been laid upon the player's 
liberty. But I have thought that a discussion of 
the art of the pianist from this point of view would 
be of most value to the music lover who desires to 
know something of the higher criticism in piano 
music. There is, of course, another side to the 
story. The pianist's work is based on laws and 
principles to which he must submit, however great 
his genius. It is only after long training and ex- 
perience that he can be allowed to give loose rein 
to his own natural impulses. Looming above him, 
warning and guiding him, is the authority of ar- 
tistic laws which are as imperative as natural for- 
ces. These decrees are final because they are the 
expression of something inherent in the very con- 
stitution of the human mind. Next below these 
ultimate commands are methods, styles, customs 
which have acquired the sanction that is drawn from 
the consensus of the most intelligent practice. As 
the generations come and go experiments of every 
conceivable kind are made; certain procedures, not 
being justified by sober reflection, are abandoned, 
while others are maintained because in the long 
run they agree with the matured sense of artistic 
propriety. Hence arise what are called "tradi- 
tions." These traditions, however, are not ab- 
solutely rigid. There is no finality in art, because 
where there is mental activity and an insatiable 


search for truth even the works of the older mas- 
ters will be seen through an atmosphere created 
by the temper and experience of the age, and a 
changed point of view will modify their aspect. 
The master pianist may say, Why should not I 
also have a share in the making of tradition? 
Mendelssohn and other musicians of his time no 
doubt believed that the tradition of the perform- 
ance of Beethoven's symphonies was once for all 
established, but then came Wagner, Liszt, Billow, 
Richter and their disciples, and the tradition under- 
went a change. In piano playing there are ca- 
pacities for varying beauty in the improved instru- 
ment that were undreamed of by Mozart and 
Beethoven; the performer, therefore, may add 
color to their works and is not required to pre- 
serve the dry light of the old time. The master 
pianist must hold the balance between two incli- 
nations — one to deny his own instinct toward self- 
expression and efface himself in presence of the 
composer, the other to ignore the composer's au- 
thority and give free rein to his own egotism. 

But what is the proper balance ? There indeed 
is the difficulty. All admit that the player must be 
true to the spirit and meaning of the composer, 
but since the composer's intention must be mainly 
inferred from the composition itself there comes 
that latitude of interpretation, that exercise of 
the performer's judgment, taste, and musicianship 
which gives to piano recitals their perpetual in- 
terest. The pianist, like the actor, is a man of 


his time. Contemporary tendencies in art will 
show themselves in piano playing as in other fields 
of expression. Certain general principles, how- 
ever, stand sure. Mozart must not be played like 
Tchaikovsky, nor a Beethoven Adagio like a Cho- 
pin Nocturne. It is not a question of period, 
however, as some seem to assert, but of style. A 
composer of the present who should write like Mo- 
zart must be played like Mozart, and not with the 
contrasts of speed and dynamics that are proper 
to a Liszt Rhapsodie. But there is a more or less 
necessary connection between the style of a com- 
poser's work and his period; hence the player 
must be familiar with the history of his art in order 
that he may be conscious of the background of 
every typical work, and enter sympathetically into 
the special character which it may possess as the 
reflection of the ideals and methods of its age. 

There abides the old antithesis between " sub- 
jective" and " objective' * playing. The subjective 
player makes the work his own, he discharges 
through it his own temperament, and he never 
plays it twice in exactly the same way. The objec- 
tive player treats the work as external to himself, 
he aims to perform it, to the best of his knowledge 
and belief, precisely as the composer would do; he 
fixes in his memory every dynamic sign, he scru- 
pulously follows the tradition, and he endeavors to 
play the work in the same manner at every repe- 
tition down to the smallest details. Rubinstein said 
to a pupil, "Play as you feel. Is the day rainy? 


Play it in one way. Is it sunny? Play it in an- 
other way." A player of the school of Mendelssohn 
would probably have said: This way, or this, is 
correct; so must it always be done. 

The discussion is of little moment, for strictly 
speaking there is no such thing as purely subjective 
or purely objective performance. The happy lim- 
itations of our notation system forbid the latter, 
and as for subjective playing there is only one sort 
that is completely such, and that is improvising. 
In former days extemporaneous playing, in which 
the pianist was composer and executant at the 
same instant, was the summum bonum, the ulti- 
mate test of mastership. But in these latter times 
the pianist gains his crown through his ability as 
an interpreter of the works of other men. Un- 
doubtedly something has been lost by the change. 
If we are to trust contemporary report, the unpre- 
meditated performances of Beethoven and Liszt 
exhibited a splendor, a fire, and an eloquence of 
appeal that are not paralleled in the deliberate 
reproductions of the njodern method. The gain, 
however, has more than balanced the loss. A 
Beethoven or a Liszt appears only once in a gen- 
eration, while Paderewski and Hofmann and the 
noble army of their compeers keep ever before us 
the glorious works of the great tone poets, endowed 
by the love and the imagination of the interpreter 
with the magical, ever-renewed charm of re-crea- 
tion. The master player gives to his performance 
a glow and an energy as of an improvisation, but 


he is saved from exaggeration and egotistic strain- 
ing after originality by a humble deference to the 
composer and a reverence for the established laws 
of his art. At the keyboard, under the excitement 
of the moment and the nervous stimulation that 
comes from the enthusiasm of his audience, he 
will often put forth powers unsuspected even by 
himself, and will produce effects apparently un- 
premeditated. But, like the wise actor, he will not 
trust wholly to "the inspiration of the moment,'' 
and it will probably appear that these seeming 
novelties of treatment, these outbreaks of excep- 
tional ardency, are simply the intensifying of effects 
planned in the study chamber and kindled by the 
electric contact of the milieu and the moment into 
a splendor which the calm of the practice hours 
could not anticipate. Under such excitements 
flashed those impassioned displays of which gray- 
haired contemporaries of Liszt and Rubinstein 
speak with bated breath and uplifted eyes. 

It appears from this examination of the pianist's 
art that the music lover has in piano music a very 
large field for study and a provision for ever in- 
creasing delight. He will first look for finished tech- 
nique — for rapidity, force, and clarity in brilliant 
work, for singing tone and perfect equipoise of mel- 
ody and harmony under all circumstances. The 
shading must be full of variety, balanced and dis- 
tributed like the lights and darks in a fine painting; 
the crescendos and diminuendos must rise and fall 
with majestic ease; there must be fulness without 


confusion, force without violence, delicacy without 
weakness; a perfect adaptation of the touch, from 
the crispest staccato to the sustained clinging legato, 
to the essential character of the passage; above all 
and everywhere a faultless drawing of the melodic 
and rhythmic line, the contour and body of every 
figure clearly revealed and placed firmly upon the 
metrical foundation. With all this assumed as an 
evidence of the technical competence of the player, 
the question of the truth of his interpretation, never 
perhaps to be finally settled (since the decision is 
so much affected by personal preferences), will be 
submitted to that larger knowledge of the laws of art 
and of the diverse ideals of the masters which the 
seeker after critical wisdom will constantly labor 
to acquire. 




The conscientious lover of music, who wants a 
prop for his judgments more stable than caprice, 
encounters certain peculiar difficulties when the 
art of song is in question. And yet it would seem 
at first thought that all men might instinctively 
feel and estimate alike. Singing comes nearer to 
being universal than any other formal expression of 
emotion. Every impulse that draws men together 
in the fraternity of a common need has always 
chosen melody as the most natural, the most appro- 
priate, and the most efficient means of expressing 
the consciousness of spiritual solidarity. No other 
agent is so powerful in stimulating the mental ex- 
citement that is the forerunner of action. Politi- 
cal and religious leaders know that song is more 
effective for their ends than rhetoric. Luther's 
battle was half won when the people began to sing 
the hymns of the Reformation. Not less endeared 
is song as an outlet for the more ideal cravings of 
the individual heart. Love seems always to imply 
melody, or at least the tuneful impulse. So nat- 
ural is the connection here that Darwin was led to 


believe that the very origin of music is to be found 
in the love calls of the half-human progenitors 
of mankind. Among the ancient cultivated nations 
and in a multitude of instances among the simpler 
races and lower social grades to-day, poetry and 
music are inseparable. Song is preeminently the 
social art. It is the only means of artistic expres- 
sion that can be employed by a large number of 
people at the same instant and in the same manner. 
If my neighbor and I can sing in all sincerity the 
same songs, then for the time being we have es- 
tablished a close tie between one another; we see 
into each other's hearts and find there something 
that makes us brothers. 

Out of this universal impulse toward vocal ex- 
pression, which in ordinary conditions remains 
crude and rudimentary, a fine art has emerged, and 
men of genius have put into consummate musical 
utterance those emotional impulses which had 
already been crystallized into poetry. Their mel- 
odies are then taken from the cold page and trans- 
muted into impassioned sound by men and women 
who are trained in accordance with refined princi- 
ples of reproductive art. The sway over our spirits 
exercised by this twofold creative act is due to our 
consciousness that these singers are our interpreters 
as well as interpreters of the composers. , Their per- 
formances are only the farther stage of a process 
which begins everywhere in the world when a Jtetfder 
longing desires the relief of utterance, for in the 
most elaborate development of vocal art there is 


a ground tone of simple feeling that is under- 
stood by every heart that is in tune with nature. 
From the crooning of a monotonous lullaby by 
some lowly mother in cabin or wigwam to the splen- 
did display of a Sembrich or a Caruso before ap- 
plauding thousands there is simply the special de- 
velopment of a general faculty. For this reason, 
perhaps, the world at large feels a more direct in- 
terest in acting and singing than in any other form 
of artistic exercise. The actor and singer are car- 
rying on activities which have been more or less 
operative in our own experience. We have all used 
speech and gesture and have at some time sung, 
whereas comparatively few have played an instru- 
ment, carved, painted, or made verses. The differ- 
ence is that the professional performance is deliber- 
ate and cultivated instead of spontaneous; out of 
a universal unartistic custom there has been evolved 
a very exquisite form of specialized art. 

It may be that this very nearness to nature may 
account for the fact that the vast majority of those 
who frequent theatres and concert halls are quite 
incapable of an accurate critical judgment upon the 
performances of actors and vocalists. " Of all the 
branches of musical performance," says Mr. W. J. 
Henderson, "singing is that about which the great 
majority of music lovers know the least. The 
general public makes very little discrimination be- 
tween the work of a de Reszke or a Melba and 
that of a fourth rate Sunday night concert singer 
who has paid the manager to give her an appear- 


ance." Elsewhere Mr. Henderson explains this by 
saying: "The public is not an expert, never was 
and never will be. It is idle, careless, and indif- 
ferent to the critical questions of art." This diag- 
nosis leaves untouched the deeper question why the 
public is so short-sighted, unconscious of the higher 
truths in art. The public is indeed ignorant, care- 
less perhaps, but I am sure not altogether indif- 
ferent. It applauds what it believes to be good. 
The gallery god gives boisterous approbation to the 
most atrocious ranting, not from wanton delight in 
making a noise, but because from his point of view 
the performance is right and he has a social duty 
to perform in encouraging merit. ' 

The ridiculously false judgments to which Mr. 
Henderson alludes are of course due to ignorance, 
but there are many ignorances, and the one blind- 
ness that explains many other errors, it seems to 
me, is the failure of the average man to grasp the 
antithesis between art and nature. That art is art 
precisely because it is not nature, is a statement 
that bewilders him. To him the one thing needful 
in art is imitation. Before a landscape painting 
he asks, Is it natural? In a portrait he sees no 
merit except that of superficial likeness. Poetry 
says nothing to him because it is a non-natural 
speech which he does not understand, or it interests 
him in proportion as it comes near to prose. In 
the drama his warmest approval is given to crude 
reproduction of actual everyday life. And so in 
respect to singing, it is to the material, viz., the 



voice, in its more obvious and sensational qualities, 
that the average man confines his attention, to- 
gether with the accessory means of personal ap- 
peal, such as the singer's physical charm, presence, 
or magnetism. He is unobservant of those acquired 
and specialized elements that give so much pleasure 
to the connoisseur. 

Another reason for the inability of the majority 
to appreciate fine singing is to be found in the fact y 
that song is a composite art. The voice is used 
for a twofold purpose, and each of its functions is 
to some extent unfavorable to the full exercise of 
the other. That is to say, the voice is a musical 
instrument capable of giving pleasure by inarticu- 
late sound, like a violin, and it is also a medium for 
the conveyance of thought by means of words. 
Sustained musical phrases, with changes of pitch 
and shading, interfere with distinct enunciation; 
and on the other hand, the effort at distinct enun- 
ciation is unfavorable to the maintenance of pure 
tone quality and sustained delivery. Song, there- 
fore, is to a certain degree a compromise. Musi- 
cal sound, whose office is to enchant the ear by 
its sensuous loveliness, is bound to the service of 
words imparting definite concepts. The listener's 
attention is directed to both — the abstract tone for 
the joy of it, and the pronunciation of the text for 
the understanding of it. Where two factors, un- 
like in their psychologic effect, are striving to gain 
possession of the listener's attention, he often finds 
that the impression of one or both is imperfect 


Even when the singer employs a foreign language, 
the dilemma is not evaded, for the listener is per- 
fectly aware that the singer is not articulating 
meaningless syllables, that the style of the music 
and the delivery are strongly conditioned by the 
text, and if he cares for anything besides the 
mere tickling of his ear he tries to get some inti- 
mation of what the performer is singing about. 
To some extent, in any case, his attention is di- 
vided, turned now in one direction now in another, 
so that the point in which he is least instructed, 
viz., vocal technique, escapes him, and song as a 
fine art becomes in his consciousness song as crude 
auditory sensation or verbal declamation. 

So much for the practical difficulties in the im- 
mediate art of hearing. They are made more un- 
certain by being involved in a long debated theo- 
retical question which concerns the whole problem 
of the relation of tone to text in vocal music. 
Which is the more important of the two? If one 
must yield to the other, which shall it be? Does 
the poetry exist for the sake of the music, or the 
music for the poetry ? How does a decision for 
either claimant affect the ideal and method of the 
art of singing? According to his verdict will be 
the music lover's judgment and appreciation of the 
vocal art. It is worth while to state the problem 
with considerable fulness, for it will shed light not 
only upon singing, but also upon the whole ques- 
tion of vocal music in song, oratorio, church music, 
and opera. 



Among those who give serious attention to vocal 
music in the capacity of listeners two types of mind 
appear. There is first the man in whom the love of 
music per se is so paramount that it drives all other 
considerations into the background; language is 
only incidental, giving occasion for musical sounds; 
the listener's pleasure consists in music considered 
as beautiful tone brilliantly executed, not in music 
as the bearer of sentiment defined in words. The 
second type lays emphasis upon literary and dra- 
matic values; to him poetry and action are of su- 
preme consequence; the office of music is to reen- 
force the power of words as representative of ideas. 
There are even minds of a cast so predominantly 
literary that music is an interference, an intruder 
that gets in the way of verse, and they would re* 
duce music to almost complete subordination. It is 
well known that Goethe's indifference to the songs 
of Schubert was the result of a jealousy for the art 
of poetry; music in his conviction must never be 
so assertive that the listener's attention would be 
deflected from the words. Hence he preferred the 
simple strains of Zelter with their gentle melodies, 
and the pale harmonies that did no more than fur- 
nish a slender support to the voice. William Butler 
Yeats, the Irish poet, goes even further than Goethe 
in his protest against the allurements of music. 
He confesses that there is something about music 
that he does not like, and he discovered the reason 
when a friend one day spoke to him some verses, 
with her fingers lightly passing over a stringed 


instrument which she held upon her knees. " She 
spoke to a little tune/' says Mr. Yeats, "but it was 
never singing. A singing note would have spoiled 
everything." He explains his aversion to ordi- 
nary song in this wise: "When I heard anything 
sung I did not hear the words, or if I did their 
natural pronunciation was altered, or it was 
drowned in another music which I did not under- 

This suppression of music in deference to poetry 
satisfies Mr. Yeats because poetry is his passion, 
but to minds differently constituted the mere 
"speaking to a tune" would be extremely tan- 
talizing, because there is just enough of musical 
suggestion to arouse a desire that is constantly 
thwarted. In melodrama, which some people, 
even musicians, esteem, where a reciter employs 
ordinary speech and a piano or an orchestra per- 
forms a richly evolved accompaniment, the antag- 
onism is still more decisive, for there is no pretence 
at amalgamation. These two devices are merely 
evasions of the difficulty. What is wanted is a 
union of poetry and music upon such terms that 
each shall be allowed a large measure of its natural 
right, neither completely subjected to the other, both 
so adjusted in stable equipoise that each shall 
enhance the pleasure that is derived from its fellow. 
A unity so perfect as this seems practically impos- 
sible to attain. The listener cannot give equal at- 
tention to both poetry and music at the same time. 
Their forms, their methods of action, the faculties 


engaged in their reception are so unlike that the 
effort to follow the diction of verse with mind in- 
tent on poetic values, interferes with the effort to 
follow the timbre, form, and rhythm of music with 
mind alert to musical values. 

One of the most interesting details in the history 
of music is found in the annals of the conflict for 
supremacy between the two factors in song. In a 
chant the rhythm of the lines imposes itself upon 
the tones, and the avowed purpose of the music 
is to emphasize the text. In the unison Gregorian 
chant, which constituted the music of the church 
in the early Middle Ages before part-writing was 
invented, music was already striving to break loose 
from its thraldom. The " ornate " or " florid " chant 
was known in early times, even among the nations 
of antiquity, the voice on occasion soaring away 
in a flight of rapid notes on a single vowel — a 
crude but significant attempt to secure an inde- 
pendent exercise of the musical impulse. With the 
development of the intricate choral counterpoint of 
the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries the 
demand for musical freedom showed itself in an- 
other guise: words were lost and their sense ob- 
scured in a tangled web of crossing melodies, and 
the written notes were often decorated with florid 
improvised embellishments. Popes and bishops en- 
deavored to repress this tendency and maintain the 
claims of the sacred text against the musical ex- 
travagancies of the theorists and choristers, but 
with little success. The passion for musical indul- 


gence was too strong to be curbed even by the tra- 
ditional reverence for the liturgy. 

When a reaction came, it was outside the fold of 
the church. The Florentine inventors of the opera 
at the close of the sixteenth century, revolting 
against the obscuration of the word in the har- 
monic confusions of the church chorus, produced 
a kind of musical declamation in which music, 
reduced almost to its lowest terms, served merely 
to bring the text into clear relief, occasionally em- 
ploying a more tuneful strain out of deference to the 
natural behests of the musical ear, but avoiding 
whatever would disturb the concentration of the 
mind upon word and action. It seemed to Peri, 
Caccini, and Cavaliere that the problem of drama tic~ 
music was solved, but they did not make, suffi- 
cient allowance for the musical passion rooted in 
the Italian heart. The genius of Italy in the sev- 
enteenth century was musical, not literary. The 
triumph of verse ov$r melody was short-lived. 
Melody was slowly disengaged from the simple dry 
stile parlante, and when it " found itself" in the 
middle of the century there was an outburst of ec- 
static song in the opera houses, and in the churches 
also, that fairly turned the heads of the gay world 
of Europe. Italian opera composers and their im- 
itators in every land sprang up by hundreds, and 
with one accord they surrendered themselves heart 
and soul to the seductions of the aria. Singers 
trained to give to this melody all the splendor that 
can be conferred by delicious voices and the last 


perfection of technique swarmed in every capital in 
Europe. All ranks were captivated by the novelty 
and the voluptuous fascinations of the new art, 
and the vocal feats and the social triumphs of the 
great singers read like the tales of romance. Never 
before or since was any form of art expression so 
completely the despot of its age. 

The effect upon poetry, plot, and action can 
easily be conjectured. It is difficult to maintain 
two monarchs in one realm, and music in the giddi- 
ness of its success reduced its dramatic partner to 
a position of abject inferiority. The Italian grand 
opera, as it waxed on the side of melody and vo- 
calism, waned on the side of plot, character, and 
action. It became stereotyped into a barren, me- 
chanical formalism. Everything was contrived by 
the composer and librettist in the interest of the 
singer purely as virtuoso. The opera came to con- 
sist of a score or more of arias with an occasional 
duet, the whole stitched together by monotonous 
recitatives. A mechanical plan of three divisions 
was contrived for this aria, and lines were stretched 
and words repeated so that the text might fit it, 
instead of the music growing directly out of the form 
and meaning of the verse. The composer became 
the vassal of the singer; his mission was not so 
much to write fine music as it was to contrive musi- 
cal formulas that would be favorable to the display 
of the vocal art of this or that popular favorite. 
The singer had the right to take whatever liberty 
with these melodies his fancy or conceit suggested, 
*5 2 


substituting favorable for unfavorable vowels, in- 
terpolating the most astonishing flourishes and ca- 
denzas at every opportune or inopportune moment. 
It must not be supposed that there was no thought 
of expression on the part of these magnates of the 
opera. They were praised for pathos as well as 
for brilliancy, and we know that timbre and truth 
of shading were considered in the schools as well as 
volubility of throat and strength of lungs. But 
poetry in the opera had grown so weak that the 
sentiments to be expressed became conventional- 
ized; words were little valued except as affording 
a suggestion for music; very little of natural truth 
remained in these cold and artificial pretences at 
musical dramas. 

In such conditions the playwright found no in-~ 
spiration, and he contrived his scenes and verses 
simply in order that he might provide the number 
of arias that the "laws" of the opera required. 
The public became connoisseurs of vocal art as the 
public is not to-day. Criticism was expended only 
on quality of voice and execution, and woe to the 
singer who transgressed the canons of technique in 
the slightest particular — no truth of action or 
fine feeling for poetic sentiment could save him 
from the wrath of his outraged patrons. 

This tendency toward an exaggerated speciali- 
zation, exquisite as its results often were in their 
impression on the senses, could not hold the favor 
of those who demanded in art truth to the deeper 
facts of life and the satisfaction of the intellect, and 


even in the heyday of its glory the Italian ideal of 
song met vigorous opposition. Satirists derided 
the hollow pretension of the opera stage. The 
French grand opera, founded fifty years after the 
Italian, although it had its own conventions and 
artificialities, maintained variety of action, pure 
declamation, and respect for the written word as 
cardinal principles, and gave the dance and chorus 
a prominent place in the dramatic scheme. The 
opera buffa and the opera-comique took their char- 
acters from contemporary life and insisted upon 
comic talent, interesting situation, and lively por- 
trayal of homespun sentiment. Handel's oratorios 
which soon after 1740 took the place of the thread- 
bare Italian opera in the regard of the British pub- 
lic, gave worthy expression to the grandest ideas, 
and worked directly and indirectly to elevate the 
standards of taste in respect to both subject and 
treatment. Then came the reforms of Gluck 
between 1760 and 1780, based on the endeavor, as 
he expressed it in his preface to "Alceste," "to 
reduce music to its proper function, that of sec- 
onding poetry by enforcing the expression of the 
sentiment and the interest of the situation, with- 
out interrupting the action or weakening it by 
superfluous ornament"; setting "no value on 
novelty as such unless it was naturally suggested 
by the situation and suited to the expression." 
The influence of these precepts, uniting with a 
powerful dramatic instinct, was seen in Mozart's 
later operas. Beethoven wrote "Fidelio" in order 


to glorify womanly devotion, and made it his 
first aim to embellish his theme with all his im- 
mense resources of musical expression. Weber and 
Spohr in Germany, Cherubini, Spontini, Mehul, 
and Meyerbeer in France, held aloft, in spite of 
occasional wavering, the standard of Gluck's prin- 
ciples. A reaction toward "the tyranny of the 
singer" appeared in the brilliant group of Italian 
composers in the early part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, of whom Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and the 
young Verdi were chief, — but this reaction was not 
complete, for these men, although they revived the 
ancient glories of Italian bel canto and were willing 
enough to sacrifice poetic value and dramatic truth 
to vocal display if the two ideals ever came into 
conflict, often sought to reconcile them, and we " 
ought to acknowledge that they really believed, 
although in a rather unintelligent way, that the 
things their characters said and did were worth 
saying and doing, and that their music on the 
whole possessed fitness as well as sensuous beauty. 
The evident conviction on the part of the later 
Italian and French masters, that poetry and plot 
had received all the consideration they were en- 
titled to in such a form of art as the opera, might 
have been accepted by the world if the overwhelm- 
ing personality of Wagner had not appeared, de- 
claring himself commissioned to destroy the Italian 
superstition and to fulfil the incomplete tendencies 
that he found in the better class of French and Ger- 
man opera. Not content with demanding an equi- 


Hbrium of forces, he bluntly maintained that mu- 
sic must yield to poetry and action. In his most 
elaborate confession of faith, Opera and Drama, 
he lays down, as the rock basis of his reform, the 
maxim that the radical error of the opera had al- 
ways been in making musical effect the end and 
the drama the means, whereas in a true musical 
drama the poetic element should be the end and 
the music the means. It would be easy to show 
that Wagner was often inconsistent, and that in 
many passages in his dramas the commanding im- 
pression is just as much a one-sided musical effect 
as it is in any work of his " erroneous" predeces- 
sors. In such scenes, for example, as the "fire 
charm," Brunnhilde's awakening, the following 
duet between Briinnhilde and Siegfried, the sword 
forging, Siegfried's dirge, Isolde's death song, and 
the quintet, "prize song," and final chorus in "The 
Mastersingers," there is no apparent effort to make 
the drama the end and the music merely a means. 
The difference between Wagner and his rivals in 
such situations is a difference in sheer musical 
inventive power and a radical difference in form. 

One recent composer at least, viz., Debussy in 
" Pelleas and Melisande," has succeeded in execut- 
ing Wagner's avowed intention with what may be 
called complete consistency. That is to say, that 
the music, however beautiful, is so thoroughly the 
enveloping atmosphere of the play that the lis- 
tener is never turned by the sounds of voices and 
instruments from his concentration upon the action. 



In this remarkable work there is the most perfect 
blend and fusion of scene, poetry, and music that 
has yet been accomplished except in a few isolated 
moments in Wagner's work. But is this the final 
solution of the problem ? Is this the complete and 
perfect music-drama for which the world has been 
waitings as Debussy's disciples affirm? Other 
critics complain that this work lacks musical inter- 
est. In this controversy we are landed again upon 
the old debatable ground. Why, it is asked, should 
the musical interest be sacrificed, or even subor- 
dinated, to the dramatic ? May not Wagner's prin- 
ciple, when carried to its farthest consequence, be 
wrong, and did he not do well to be inconsistent 
when his inconsistency gave us the most magnifi- 
cent, the most profoundly emotional music that 
ever issued from the human brain? Why shquld 
people be censured if they go to the opera for mu- 
sical enjoyment rather than for the gratification of 
a taste for poetry and action, as unquestionably the 
vast majority of them do? Is not opera rightly to 
be classed as a phase of musical art rather than a 
phase of literary art ? Debussy's work is so far an 
interesting exception to the rule, and there is no 
sign that the public will ever treat the opera as a 
mere substitute for the spoken drama. Never- 
theless, the work of Gluck and Mozart and Wag- 
ner and the later Verdi has not been in vain. The 
opera will never relapse to its former condition in 
which poetic subject was a matter of indifference 
and the actor was lost in the singer. Time has ac- 


complished its revenges for violations of truth; the 
operas that have survived their generation and are 
established in the esteem of thoughtful minds have 
been those that are strong on the dramatic side. 

The war between word and tone has also been 
fought out with equal lack of conclusiveness in the 
domain of lyric song. But in this field the sacri- 
fice of poetic interest to vocal display has never gone 
to such lengths as in the opera. Indeed the in- 
stances have been comparatively rare in which 
either lyric composers or lyric singers have been 
content to treat the voice merely as an apparatus 
for sensational virtuosity. Such an abuse can 
hardly exist when any heed is given to literary 
merit in the selection of verse for musical setting, 
and the fact has been that the best song composers 
have as a rule chosen poems that possess beauty 
in thought and diction, and have written music 
not simply for the sake of independent melodious 
charm, but rather with an eye to the appropriate 
expression of the text. The reason for this differ- 
ence between song and the opera is perfectly clear. 
The lyric poets do not commonly write their verses 
simply for the musicians to make songs of; the 
poetry, however it may seem to invite musical treat- 
ment, is intended to stand alone, and thus having 
no end beyond itself it is the expression of the best 
skill of the author. The opera libretto, on the 
contrary, is never planned to make an independent 
impression; the writer's purpose is not to produce 
a literary and dramatic work of self-dependent in- 



teres t, but a more or less mechanical verbal contriv- 
ance that will be adapted to the special exigencies 
of scenic and musical effect according to theatrical 
conventions. Librettists as a rule are not poets 
"by the grace of God," but clever adapters of 
scenes, mechanical artificers of verse, whose aim 
is not literary but musical effect. The opera com- 
poser rarely finds a dramatic poem that can be used 
as it stands, he must have one built for him out of 
new or old material. The song writer, on the con- 
trary, is never at a loss for a text; the world is full 
of beautiful poetry waiting, without the slightest 
need of alteration, for his use. There is no excuse 
for him if he chooses verse of inferior quality; and 
when he has taken his text, if he has in him the 
love of poetry (and if he has not he does not deserve 
to be called a song writer at all) he treats it with 
veneration, and makes it his dearest hope that he 
may be able to do something worthy of the noble 
art to which he has joined his own. 

It is the spirit of church music and the folk song 
that has been transmitted to the lyric art song, 
not the spirit of the opera. The very conception, 
method, and environment of the opera, with its 
elaborate machinery, its combination of mediums 
— scenery, action, vocal music, orchestral music — 
its necessity for instantaneous and stirring effect, 
all encourage spectacularism. The finer shades of 
emotion, the more tender communing of mind 
with mind, require the more delicate vehicle of 
the lyric. The opera has always been the favor- 


ite entertainment of a limited number, not to say 
of a separate caste; the music of the people has 
been church music and lyric song. The Greeks 
knew the subtle affinity that draws music into 
the embrace of poetry; the Minnesingers and 
Troubadours knew it; in the Elizabethan age this 
mutual passion was recognized and blessed. But 
not until the nineteenth century has this wedlock 
been crowned with an offspring that perpetuates 
the dual strength and loveliness of its parentage. 
The age of the great German song composers was 
coincident with the revival of lyric poetry under 
the hands of Goethe, Schiller, and the roman- 
ticists. In fact, it lies in the nature of the case that 
in this branch of musical art the composers wait 
upon the poets, the musicians finding little inspira- 
tion in prosaic and commonplace verse. Another 
striking illustration is the rise of the brilliant group 
of French song composers of the last half century, 
following the outburst of French lyric poetry begun 
in the works of Andre Chenier and continued in 
Lamartine, Victor Hugo, De Musset, Gautier, Alfred 
de Vigny, Leconte de Lisle, Verlaine, and their com- 
peers. Schubert, who leads the brilliant host of 
modern song writers, exemplifies the controlling 
tendency of his school by seeking his texts among 
the works of such men as Goethe, Schiller, Heine, 
Shakespeare, Scott, and the poets of his day and 
country who expressed, although with varying 
ability, the genuine emotions of the common heart. 
This guiding motive was adopted by his successors, 
1 60 


and so stimulating was this ideal to the inventive 
powers of every musician who had accepted truth 
to the inner life of the soul as the law of his art, 
that the lyric inspiration swept like a spiritual 
trade wind over the world, and Schumann, Franz, 
Brahms, Jensen, and Wolf found worthy emulators 
in the Norwegians Grieg and Kjerulf, the Rus- 
sians Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky, the Hungarian 
Liszt, the Bohemian Dvorak, the American Mac- 
Dowell, and the Frenchmen Faure, Godard, Duparc, 
Saint-Saens, Massenet, and Debussy. These com- 
posers, with many others hardly less worthy of 
esteem, have discovered an art in which music and 
poetry penetrate one another in a mingling so com- 
plete that each word finds an inevitable correlative 
in a musical tone, poetic line and musical phrase 
twinborn, mutually dependent and inseparable. 
Every lover of song has in his memory scores of 
lyrics of which it might be said that music has not 
so much added a new means of expression to verse 
as it has drawn forth an emotion which words can 
but partly reveal, and endowed poetic utterance 
with a new attribute. 

In this union the poetry remains the motive 
power determining the course of the composer's in- 
vention. His purpose is not, as in former periods, 
to produce something that is in and of itself mu- 
sically pleasing, but rather, taking possession of 
verse in which genuine human feeling is appro- 
priately rendered, to fashion such a setting for this 
jewel that the most subtle refinements of poetic 


suggestion shall find their convincing counterpart 
in musical chord or phrase. Vocal music thus de- 
clares its correspondence with what is perhaps the 
most productive tendency in nineteenth century 
art, viz., direct, truthful characterization. Absolute 
fitness of style is the demand, the most subtle and 
direct interpretation, even though formal beauty 
and superficial sensuous charm be sacrificed. 

The most eminent exponent of this tendency in 
opera is, of course, Richard Wagner. He is like- 
wise an eloquent champion of it in his critical and 
autobiographical writings. No plainer statement 
of this principle and its consequences in the com- 
position of melody could be made than that of 
Wagner, in A Communication to My Friends. If 
the reader will refer back to what has been said 
in the section on melody in this book, Wagner's 
statement will be clear. "Wherever," he says, "I 
had to give utterance to the emotions of my dra- 
matis persona, as shown by them in feeling dis- 
course, I was forced entirely to abstain from this 
rhythmic melody of the Folk [that is, the conven- 
tional structure of four and eight measure metre]: 
or rather, it could not occur to me to employ that 
method of expression; nay, here the dialogue it- 
self, conformably to the emotional contents, was to 
be rendered in such a fashion that, not the melodic 
Expression, per se, but the expressed Emotion should 
rouse the interest of the hearer. The melody must 
therefore spring, quite of itself, from out the verse; 
in itself, as sheer melody, it could not be permitted 


to attract attention, but only in so far as it was the 
most expressive vehicle for an emotion already 
plainly outlined in the words. With this strict con- 
ception of the melodic element, I now completely 
left the usual operatic mode of composition; inas- 
much as I no longer tried intentionally for custom- 
ary melody, or, in a sense, for Melody at all, but 
absolutely let it take its rise from feeling utterance 
of the words.' \ l 

In judging the merits of this later style of "con- 
tinuous music" as applied to song and opera, one 
must recognize the difference between the idea of 
a lyric poem and that of a dramatic scene. There 
are, indeed, varieties of lyrics, but the strict defi- 
nition of such a poem is that it presents a single 
thought or sentiment, permitting its phrases to alter 
in changing circumstances, allowing the thought to 
reveal new aspects under varying lights, letting 
the fancy play around it, yet essentially one mood, 
one conception, not describing the events that pro- 
duced the feeling or anticipating its consequences, 
but a direct immediate presentation of the feel- 
ing itself, with just enough of incident to localize 
and determine the feeling and bring it into relief. 
When the mood has been set forth in a clear 
and appealing way the purpose of the poem is 
accomplished. Hence in a multitude of lyrics suit- 
able for musical setting the old form of tune, re- 
turning upon itself, leading back to its first strain 
and its first key, even repeating the tune note 

1 Translation by William Ashton Ellis. 


for note in the successive stanzas, is perfectly ap- 
propriate. Schubert was not in error as to his 
form when he wrote "Who is Sylvia?" and " Faith 
in Spring." The treatment in these songs is as 
proper as the quite different method in "The 
Phantom Double" and "The Erl King." Even 
in the opera the conventional song form may still 
be admissible where the action becomes stationary 
and the actor expresses a feeling that requires a 
considerable amount of time for its unfolding. 
Delila's song, "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice," 
in Saint-Saens's "Samson and Delila" is not to 
be condemned on any just principle of musico- 
dramatic propriety. But in the large stretches of 
an opera scene the present-day insistence upon 
dramatic truth accepts Wagner's principle with 
certain modifications. In a true drama there must 
be constant life, change, and movement; a frequent 
arrest for the sake of vocal display leads inevitably 
to the old abuses. With the reassertion of dramatic 
reality and poetic interest the form becomes more 
continuous, expansive, and flexible, and the en- V 
forcement of the law that musical form must grow 
inevitably out of the matrix of the verse compels 
formalism to give way to direct and intimate ex- 

All the musical forms that ever existed are, it 
seems to me, still valid. Their justification, how- 
ever, rests upon their fitness to the thought, verse 
diction, or situation which calls them into life. 
Even the colorature song, which composers no long- 


er write, is often able to vindicate its reason for 
being. Even Wagner speaks of " the classic noble- 
ness of the Italian vocal art of earlier times. ,, 
But the former acquiescence in musical charm at 
the cost of truth was a sign of an imperfect criterion 
of judgment. Another, which we believe to be 
higher, has taken its place. 

The effect of the new principle and method in 
lyric and dramatic music upon the vocalist can 
easily be understood. The singer who adopts the 
interpretative conception accepts the sovereignty 
of poetry and makes the expression of the poet's 
mind the end and aim of his effort. He feels the 
poetry through and through. He studies it as the 
actor studies his lines. His vocal style, his tone 
color, his determination of speed and dynamics, his 
phrasing — all issue from the endeavor to keep the 
thought of the text uppermost in his mind. In the 
singing of a typical artist of this school there are 
three creative personalities in alliance for one com- 
mon end; poet, composer, and singer are actuated 
by a single purpose, and the listener finds that his 
attention is not wandering in a maze of distracting 
sounds, but directed along the path marked out by 
the poet's imagination. 

The music lover will now naturally ask if the 
two ideals presented in the history of song — per- 
fect vocal technique as an end in itself, and su- 
preme emphasis upon poetic expression — are com- 
patible with one another. Need there be conflict 
between them? Does insistence upon the most 



refined vocalism involve any sacrifice of truth of 
pronunciation and poetic emphasis, or may im- 
purity of voice or flaws in execution be excused in 
return for perfect declamation and strong intel- 
lectual and emotional conception ? There are cer- 
tainly conspicuous instances in which one has been 
exalted over the other, and singers of both types 
have had enthusiastic admirers. The consum- 
mate flower of the Italian bel canto has been dis- 
played in later days in the singing of Adelina Patti. 
Mr. Henry T. Finck says of her: "Niemann was 
no doubt right in pronouncing her the most 
perfect vocalist of all times." "The ordinary epi- 
thets applicable to a voice, such as sweet, sympa- 
thetic, flexible, expressive, sound almost too com- 
monplace to be applied to Patti's voice at its best." 
"Her voice has a natural sensuous charm like a 
Cremona violin, which it is a pleasure to listen to 
irrespective of what she happens to be singing. 
It is a pleasure, too, to hear under what perfect 
control she has it; how, without changing the qual- 
ity of the sound, she passes from a high to a low 
note, from piano to forte, gradually or suddenly, and 
all without the least sense of effort. Indeed her 
notes are as spontaneous as those of a nightingale." 
In later years she showed more and more anxiety 
to win renown as a dramatic singer, and here, 
Mr. Finck says, "the vocal style which she ex- 
clusively cultivated proved an insuperable obstacle. 
Although free from the smaller vices of the Italian 
school, she could not overcome the great and fatal 


shortcoming of that school — the maltreatment of 
the poetic text. She could not find the proper 
accents required in operas where the words of the 
text are as important as the melody itself. Hav- 
ing neglected to master the more vigorous vowels 
and expressive consonants, she cannot assert her 
art in dramatic works. Her voice, in short, is 
merely an instrument.' y 

As a conspicuous example of a singer of the op- 
posite kind we have had in recent years Dr. Lud- 
wig Wiillner, who was advertised at his first ap- 
pearance in this country as " a great singer without 
a voice." Here was a rather startling challenge to 
established notions of the vocal art. Dr. Wtillner 
has in a high degree the abilities of an actor. His 
literary knowledge is extensive and his taste that of 
a man of broad culture. He can enter sympathet- 
ically into a very wide range of poetic conceptions. 
In articulation, pronunciation, emphasis, variety 
of expression, mastery of all the nuances of feeling 
— boisterous humor, tenderness, pathos, and grim- 
mest tragedy — flexibility in adaptation of style to 
subject, accumulative force in working up emo- 
tional climaxes — in all these features his truthful- 
ness of conception (barring an occasional tendency 
to exaggerate) and vividness of presentation are 
extraordinary, and the impression he produced has 
had few parallels in the annals of music in America. 
The first enthusiasm beginning to abate, voices of 
protest were heard. High critical authorities de- 
clared that the art of pure song had rights which this 


great musical declaimer constantly violated; that 
his voice lacking sensuous charm, and his method 
betraying indifference to the classic laws which the 
acknowledged masters of three centuries had pro- 
mulgated, he was undoing the work of earnest and 
conservative vocal teachers, and misleading the criti- 
cal judgment of the public into the belief that bad 
intonation, harshness of tone, and lack of all the 
vocal graces are matters of little consequence pro- 
vided that "expression," especially "dramatic ex- 
pression," is assured. Is singing, the objectors 
ask, the rendering of poetry by means of tones 
that are charming to the ear under all circum- 
stances, or is it a matter of accents and tempos 
and dynamics with merely rhetorical ends in view, 
unregardful of the laws of musical beauty and per- 
fection which have hitherto been maintained in 
vocal and instrumental music alike? 

The musical public seems to be divided upon 
this issue. In every country vocal sins are perpe- 
trated by distinguished performers and pardoned 
in the interest of what is called "interpretation." 
On the other hand, many frequenters of operas 
and concerts — probably the majority — are heed- 
less of all considerations except purity, brilliancy, or 
flexibility of voice. Madame Patti and Dr. Wlillner 
have both had their unqualified admirers; and 
yet reason and experience would seem to declare 
that neither affords the model to which the earnest 
singer should aspire. Beautiful singing is not 
wholly poetic expression, for the voice is an in- 


strument on which one plays for the delight of the 
ear. Neither is it pure tone and finished technique 
wholly, for without uncovering the soul that dwells 
in poetry it cannot move the intellect. Both qual- 
ities — emotional expression and technical com- 
pleteness — may unite, and there is no inherent 
reason why they should not supplement and sus- 
tain each other. It is no doubt true that in the 
lyric drama and German Lied there has been in 
some quarters a disregard of vocal perfection as a 
result of reaction against the one-sidedness of the 
old Italian school, but no considerable portion of 
the world will ever be content with bad singing 
under any pretence. Another reaction is now in 
progress, the nature of which is shown by the asser- 
tion that is becoming frequent among the best writ- 
ers, that there is but one right way to sing, whether 
the music be that of Mozart, Handel, Schubert, or 
Wagner. Harshness of tone, a jerky explosive style, 
an audible gasp when taking breath, a perpetual un- 
steadiness, a lazy sliding from note to note — these 
vices are not expressive, and are no more to be in- 
dulged in the modern declamatory music than in the 
classic bel canto. This law finds no obstacle to its 
enforcement in the fact that composers nowadays 
aim more at writing music that is characteristic 
than music that is formally beautiful in the classic 
sense. Emphasis may shift from one side to an- 
other, and composers may risk audacities of expres- 
sion from which their forbears would shrink in 
dismay; nevertheless, singing remains an art and 


cannot survive unless it obeys the universal laws of 
its kingdom. Just as a drama so naturalistic that 
the time-honored principles of acting must be abol- 
ished would not be good art; just as a painting so 
literally imitative that the criteria of draftsman- 
ship and composition that have been maintained by 
every master from the beginning are defied, would 
not be good art; so any alliance of poetry and 
music for ends whose realization would put ugliness 
of sound in place of beauty would be self-destruc- 
tive. No art is expected always to remain isolated 
and solitary; the arts may combine for purposes 
which one alone cannot accomplish; but in this 
union they are not required to deny their original 
natures, they must still remain capable of giving 
separately that special and peculiar pleasure for 
which they were individually endowed. 




There need be no quarrel with the assertion 
that the end and aim of technique is expression. 
Pure vocalism, however, is not merely a means. A 
lovely voice, perfectly controlled, is in itself a cause 
of happiness not to be repented of, even leaving out 
of the account its relation to words. Lyric and 
dramatic interpretation and trained mechanism 
need never be set over against one another as di- 
vergent in aim, and they should not be separated 
in the consciousness of the singer or hearer. Never- 
theless, there is so marked a tendency in certain 
quarters to disregard the classic traditions of re- 
fined voice production in the supposed interest of 
' "expression" that it seems worth while to devote 
a short chapter to the technical principles involved 
in good singing. There is all the more reason for 
this in the fact that the great majority of music 
lovers are so ignorant of what constitutes correct 
singing that when they hear a voice which gives 
an excitement to their nerves by its sensuous quality, 
especially by its brilliancy or power, they applaud 



and go away satisfied, indifferent to many faults or 
merits which an intelligent critic condemns or 

An appreciation of skill in singing is certainly a 
necessary part of a music lover's education. The 
principles involved are so few and so easily stated 
that no one need mistake them. As this book is 
not a technical treatise on any branch of musical 
art, but an attempt to show the amateur how and 
where to direct his observation, a brief enumera- 
tion seems to be all that is required. 

The laws of good vocalism which it is needful to 
bear in mind may be placed in two categories, one \ 
including the proper production and management 
of tone, the other dealing with suitableness of style 
to the sentiment of the text. In the first case the 
laws are essentially the same as those that are in- 
volved in the playing of instruments in which sus- 
tained tones capable of shading are produced, such 
as the violin, clarinet, or horn. Up to a certain 
point the critical listener will be safe in his judg- 
ments if he compares a singer's execution with that 
of a violinist. In fact, a singer, as well as a lover 
of singing, can learn much by listening to fine 
violin playing. 

In the first place, the hearer will expect that the * 
tones of the singer's voice will be pure and agree- 
able. One would suppose that there need be no 
mistake on this point, but every critic has noticed 
the singular fact that a voice will often sound neu- 
tral or even unpleasant to one ear and beautiful to 


another. In such cases prejudice or some kind of 
accessory or association will have a good deal to do 
— friendship perhaps, or admiration for a singer's 
mental or moral qualities, strongly affecting the 
impression made upon the ear. Such questions 
as this, however, may be left out of the account. I 
shall assume that sensuously beautiful tones are 
immediately appreciated by people with a normal 
auditory apparatus. The warning that is required 
must be addressed to those who perceive voice 
quality and nothing else. 

It is not surprising that where physical beauty of 
tone exists it should often drive all other considera- 
tions out of the field. There is no other sensation 
received by ear or eye that is capable of giving 
quite that thrill of rapture that is felt when the 
nerves of hearing are swept by a flood of glorious 
tones issuing from the throat of a great singer. 
One's whole frame seems to quiver in sympathetic 
vibration. This extraordinary effect is not merely 
physical, it is also psychological. It is "the cry 
of the human," and it is the deepest soul in us that 
makes reply. We call a lovely voice "sympa- 
thetic," and there is a world of associations involved 
in that word, some near, some remote, passing 
down to us through uncounted generations that 
have aspired, suffered, and enjoyed. The ecstasy 
kindled by an entrancing voice has a source deeper 
than we know. Its communications are beyond 
all measure subtle and extended. It is the admo- 
nition of the higher instincts, it is a visitation that 


redeems us for the moment from the thraldom of 
space and time. Individual interests give way to 
those that are common and universal. No one 
need apologize if his nature responds with whole- 
hearted enthusiasm to such an appeal as this. 

A voice capable of producing such effects through 
its timbre alone is rare, and even such a voice is 
to a large degree dependent upon certain powers 
that are not native but acquired — accomplish- 
ments that are secured only by prolonged and in- 
telligent labor. This art, like every other, is built 
upon science. The proper emission and control of 
tone, without which natural gifts are of no avail, 
are attainments that are deliberate, self-conscious, 
and to a large extent mechanical. They are mas- 
tered only after years of assiduous study under the 
direction of wise and experienced teachers. These 
acquired technical habitudes enter into the account 
in a listener's enjoyment, whether he is fully con- 
scious of the fact or not, and, as in all appreciation 
of art, a knowledge of the problems and the diffi- 
culties involved has much to do with his satisfac- 
tions. A little instruction shows him that good 
singing, merely on the side of tone production, is not 
a simple matter, and that it is well for him to ac- 
quire certain other perceptions besides his unre- 
flective recoil to the mere physical impact of sound. 

The first necessity in fine singing is that the tones 

shall be true in intonation, that is to say, the voice 

must be exactly on the pitch in every note, and 

every tone must be carried through without the 



slightest wavering, whether the notes be long or 
short, loud or soft, high or low, and whether the 
passage be quick or slow, shaded or uniform. To 
the average listener a voice will seem beautiful if 
the intonation is perfect, although it may be quite 
ordinary so far as timbre is concerned. This per- 
fect accuracy of pitch and firmness of tone, which 
is in itself very agreeable and seems to make other 
virtues possible, ought, we think, to be a matter of 
course. Just here, however, appears the very sin- 
gular fact that singing out of tune and singing with 
an unsteady flow of sound are not uncommon on 
the dramatic and concert stage, that famous sing- 
ers are often guilty of one or both faults, and that 
many audiences appear not to be offended thereby. 
There have, indeed, been times when singers actu- 
ally cultivated the tremolo, and audiences accepted 
it as a new beauty that had come as a blessing into 
the world. The tremolo, it is said, became the 
fashion in Paris, and afterward in other musical 
centres, because it was employed by Rubini, the 
most adored tenor of the first part of the nineteenth 
century, in his later years to conceal the deteriora- 
tion of his organ. In this singular fact we have an 
illustration of a prevalent trait in human nature. 
"It is only a few years ago," says the English an- 
thropologist, Edward Clodd, "when a royal per- 
sonage had an affection of the knee which caused 
her to walk lame, that 'society' affected what 
was called the ' Alexandra limp.' " As beautiful 
as a limp is in walking, so is the tremolo in singing. 



People have tried to defend the tremolo against the 
strictures of the judicious on the ground that as 
'cello players employ it persistently it ought to be 
equally permitted to singers. But the vocal trem- 
olo and the quivering of a string under the finger 
of a 'cellist are not the same thing. The player 
keeps his finger on the same spot and his vibrato 
is without change of pitch. If he slid his finger 
up and down the string while making it tremble, 
the effect would be similar to the tremolo of a 
singer and would be thoroughly reprehensible. A 
vibrato effect may sometimes be employed by a 
singer in an intensely emotional situation, but only 
exceptionally. A persistent " wobble" is as much 
out-of-tune singing as persistent flatting. It is 
even worse, for flatting has the merit of consist- 
ency at least, and may be due to temporary con- 
ditions for which the singer is not wholly to blame. 
A confirmed tremolo is a nerveless, spineless, de- 
bilitated thing, a mark of infirmity and a frequent 
forerunner of collapse. It is due to physical weak- 
ness or false vocal method. It is never to be ap- 
proved, but sternly condemned or charitably pitied. 
The great secret of a tone that is always steady, 
always pure, always true, is in the management of 
the breath. A discussion of the proper method of 
breathing does not belong here; indeed, the lis- 
tener should not be reminded that breath is being 
taken, except as noble tone and masterly phrasing 
lead his curiosity back into the causes of these 
beauties. There must be no hitching up of the 


shoulders when the lungs are filled, no audible as- 
piration at the attack, no breathiness in the sound, 
no escaping air from the lungs that is not turned 
into tone. The hearer must be allowed to forget 
that the singer is a human being with a limited 
lung capacity; the breath must be taken secretly, 
and its volume so sustained that the singing will 
give an impression of exhaustless resources, like the 
rising and falling of the breeze on a summer's day. 

Wagner's maxim, already quoted, that "the tone 
sustained with equal power is the basis of all ex- 
pression," applies with as much force to singing 
as to orchestral playing. The fundamentals of 
the method taught by the old Italian masters, says 
Mr. W. J. Henderson, were "the pure legato and 
sonorous, beautiful tone." It was said by a contem- 
porary of Rubini in his prime that this great singer 
"can so control his breath as never to expend more 
of it than is absolutely necessary for producing the 
exact degree of sound he wishes. So adroitly does 
he conceal the artifice of respiration that it is im- 
possible to discover when his breath renews itself, 
inspiration and expiration being apparently simul- 
taneous, as if one were to fill a cup with one hand 
while emptying it with the other." Seek the round 
pure tone and the firm legato, it may be said to 
vocal students, and all other graces shall be added 
unto you. The critical listener, at any rate, should 
be content with nothing less. 

Not only should this control of tone be equally 
evident in all parts of the voice from the lowest note 


to the highest, but the quality of tone should be V 
virtually the same throughout the singer's compass. / 
This reads like a counsel of perfection; a literal 
enforcement of it might seem oppressive; the critic 
must be charitable. Absolute similarity of sound 
from one extreme of pitch to another does not ex- 
ist in the case of any orchestral instrument, and 
it seems rather too much to demand it literally 
of the human throat. There are singers, justly 
recognized as great, whose voices change some- 
what in character in different parts of their range. 
Rarely, if ever, does nature give equality in timbre 
and volume as a primary endowment. Somewhere 
in the voice occurs the natural " break," above 
which the novice finds a constriction, as though 
the vocal chords were squeezed together in order 
to resist all further upward progress. We need 
not enter into the vexed question of "registers," 
over which vocal teachers have so long disputed 
with an unbecoming acrimony; it is enough to say 
that in almost every voice there is at least one point 
where the tones tend to become weak and veiled, 
and beyond that point to undergo a change in 
quality. It is the teacher's business to remove this 
obstacle and so train the tone delivery that the 
broken instrument shall be mended and the transi- 
tion from one part of the voice to another made 
smooth and open. The perfect singer will not give 
the impression that there are two or three voices in 
the throat, but only one. Where the triumph over 
nature is complete the effect may be compared to 


the playing of a passage of two octaves or so upon 
a single violin string. More commonly, however, 
among good singers the effect is more analogous to 
playing on all the strings of a violin. There is an 
appreciable difference between the G and E strings, 
but the tone is always the string tone. It is quite 
possible that a voice perfectly uniform in quality 
throughout, if such a voice could exist, would be 
somewhat cold and monotonous, lacking the power 
of changing the color for expressional needs. The 
demand, therefore, is especially that the voice be 
equally pure and under control everywhere, pass- 
ing from one region to another without apparent 
effort, always maintaining suppleness, steadiness, 
and accuracy of intonation. 

In good singing each tone will begin exactly on the 
proper pitch without any sliding or groping after 
the tone, and the tone will be round and firm from 
the very first instant. The beginning of a tone is 
called the attack. With a good attack the tone 
sounds as if it had been already formed in its per- 
fection and were only waiting to be set free. There 
is no suggestion of timidity or uncertainty. There 
is none of the aspirated or clucking sound at the 
beginning of a phrase such as one of ten hears in im- 
perfect vocalism. A good attack is like the prompt 
opening of an organ pipe; there are no premonitory 
symptoms of tone, no unmusical instant, however 
brief; the tone fully formed leaps into being, round, 
buoyant, pellucid like the drops that spring from a 



And as tones and phrases begin so should they 
end. The tone vanishes not as if the breath were ex- 
hausted; it does not slide or tremble into extinction, 
but the impulsion of breath is suddenly withdrawn 
and the tone instantly ceases while still in its per- 
fection. It makes no difference in what part of 
the voice the tone may be, upon what vowel or con- 
sonant it may be engaged, whether it is loud or 
soft, or what may be the nature of the expression — 
the tone must be perfectly formed and perfectly 
controlled at its inception and its close. Perfect 
attack and finish are very beautiful to hear, and 
they imply many things that are highly creditable 
to the performer. 

With proper tone formation, perfect breath con- 
trol, accurate attack and release, and the easy 
blending of the registers once acquired, the singer 
should be able to maintain accuracy in these par- 
ticulars through all the innumerable degrees and 
transitions of force and speed upon which variety 
and truth of expression depend. One of the most 
beautiful effects in music is the "swell," the in- 
crease and diminishing of a tone by imperceptible 
gradations. It may be compared to a perfect curve 
in drawing — a beautiful thing in itself aside from 
any ulterior purpose of expression or design. It 
gives to the voice and to stringed and wind instru- 
ments a means of pleasure which instruments like 
the piano and harp do not afford, and which even 
the organ cannot give except by a sort of subterfuge. 
This ornament, as employed in singing, is techni- 


cally known as the messa di voce. It is one of the 
final evidences of the singer's command of his in- 
strument. Let a vocalist begin a tone softly, with 
a perfect attack, enlarge it to full volume so grad- 
ually that the listener cannot distinguish the succes- 
sive instants of increase because there are none, 
any more than there are straight lines in a circle; 
then let the singer reduce the sound by the same 
inappreciable gradations until it seems to taper to 
a point and vanish, one hardly knows when — all 
without the least suspicion of wavering or change 
of quality — and we have one of the most delectable 
effects that the vocal art can offer. In successions 
of notes or phrases we may have the same mastery 
of nuance, and with it the song attains life, freedom, 
warmth, and color. 

Agility and power in a high degree are demanded 
in certain kinds of music, but as they are not re- 
quired in all they are not to be accounted indis- 
pensable, like the qualities that have just been 
mentioned. The vocalists that have been most 
adored by the great public, however, have been 
those that excelled in brilliancy and force. The 
multitude enjoys most whatever appeals to the 
raw nervous susceptibility, and among all the sen- 
sations that enrapture the senses and heat the blood 
few can compare with the feats of agility for which 
the kings and queens of song in the golden days of 
bel canto were celebrated. A cool person in a 
theatre when a Catalani, a Farinelli, or a Tetraz- 
zini had broken melodv into a dazzling shower of 


coruscations might be excused for believing that 
the audience had suddenly been transformed into 
a horde of maniacs. When one looks at the records 
in print of some of the cadenzas delivered by the 
singers of the florid school, one can faintly imagine 
the effect upon the auditory nerves when these 
passages were shaken forth upon the air by such a 
voluptuous organ as that of a Jenny Lind or an 
Adelina Patti. Aside from the sensuous quality of 
tone, these acrobatic vocal feats gratify the univer- 
sal love of the marvelous, exciting the admiration 
that every one feels in the presence of some supreme- 
ly skilful triumph over difficulties. It is said that 
Rossi, a famous singer of the seventeenth century, 
could sing a chromatic trill chain of two octaves up 
and down again, all in one breath. Farinelli, of 
the eighteenth century, vanquished a noted trum- 
pet player in a public contest, surpassing his rival 
in power and in rapidity of utterance. Thomas 
Ryan, in his Recollections of an Old Musician, tells 
of a cadenza composed by Julius Benedict for 
Jenny Lind, to be sung by the "Swedish Nightin- 
gale" at the end of a cavatina. "The cadenza 
was sung without accompaniment; it covered two 
pages of music paper, and was written in a style 
suited to an instrumental concerto. Toward the 
end there was a sequence of ascending and descend- 
ing arpeggios of diminished sevenths, which flowed 
into a scale of trills from a low note to one of her 
highest; then dwelling very long on that note and 
trilling on it, she gradually returned to the theme of 


the cavatina, when it was perceived that her won- 
derfully fine musical ear had unerringly guided her 
through the mazes of the long cadenza and brought 
her to the tonic note of the piece with surprising 
correctness of intonation." 

It is not wise wholly to disdain these marvels of 
laryngeal virtuosity as though they were of the 
same grade of value as the feats of Japanese gym- 
nasts. Trills, runs, skips, and staccatos, when 
combined with varied tone colors, accents, changes 
in volume and rate of speed, may have an expres- 
sive purpose as well as a decorative charm. It is 
a noticeable fact, however, that while the popular 
love of ornamental singing seems to be as strong 
as ever and an accomplished exponent of " color a- 
ture" will still excite a prodigious furore, neverthe- 
less the composers who furnish the material for it 
are wholly of the past, and the Tetrazzini type of 
singer must fall back upon the threadbare operas 
of the Italian and French composers of the early 
part of the nineteenth century. Mr. Henry T. Finck 
speaks of this interesting fact as a " mystery." 
" Why," he asks, "have the composers of all coun- 
tries given up writing florid music when the public 
at large evidently likes it better than anything else, 
demands it with applausive violence and showers 
diamonds on the Pattis and Sembrichs, the Melbas 
and Tetrazzinis who provide it?" He goes on to 
show that not only the German and French opera 
composers, but also the composers of Italy, where 
florid song had its birth and its richest bloom, have 
given it up completely. 

i8 3 


This failure of the composers to give the public 
what it craves does seem at first thought a little 
puzzling, but it is not the first time in the history of 
art that artists have chosen to obey the higher laws 
rather than seek notoriety and emolument by cater- 
ing to the whim of the sensation-loving populace. 
The composers of the last half of the nineteenth 
century have seen a great light, and they have nobly 
chosen to "follow the gleam." Moreover there is 
no credit to a musician in writing florid cadenzas. 
Nothing is easier. They require no skill. Any- 
body who knows one key from another can do the 
trick. And further, in these colorature arias of 
the old school the composer is obliged to withdraw 
into the shade, while the singer flourishes in the full 
glare of the lime light. No composer who respects 
himself and his art will willingly take such a 
humiliating position of subordination. "The old 
order changeth, yielding place to new." The style 
of music brought into vogue by Wagner and his 
successors, driving out the obvious tunes and the 
conventional vocal embroideries of the Rossini- 
Bellini-Donizetti school, has lifted the composer to 
his rightful station, and now, secure of his position, 
he refuses longer to sacrifice himself to the honor 
and glory of the limber throated vocalist. All this, 
perhaps, may serve as a partial solution of the 

The study of colorature song, in spite of its 
abuses, is of advantage to every singer, for the prac- 
tice of it promotes flexibility and control. A vocal- 
ist who is skilled in it has a voice that is under 


subjection for all kinds of music, just as a pianist 
needs highly developed fingers for the sake of 
equality of touch and perfect command of shading 
even where technical demands are moderate. The 
singer should give the impression of ease and 
security at all times, no indication of effort should 
appear no matter how difficult the passage, and in 
every phrase each note must be as distinct as it is 
in the playing of an Ysaye or a Godowski. Be- 
sides this, florid music is not out of date, nor will 
it ever be, even though composers have abandoned 
it. The singing of Handel and Mozart requires a 
voice exceedingly supple and fluent, and Handel and 
Mozart stand among the immortal masters of song. 
The listener will demand that all music of what- 
ever type shall be sung with a clear-cut delivery of 
every note; that a chromatic scale shall be a suc- 
cession of plainly distinguishable half-steps and not 
a portamento slide; that a trill shall accord with 
its definition and not be a flutter on one note, nor 
fall under such a blasting characterization as that 
of a caustic critic of our day when he described a 
vain attempt at this ornament as "a gargle which 
the singer meant for a trill." The practice of 
colorature song is indispensable even to a singer 
who does not fully master it and never intends to 
display it in public, for it aids the vocalist in the 
attainment of abilities which all the styles require, 
on the Emersonian principle that one must often 
aim above the mark to hit the mark. 

Sufficient lung power to give the proper shading 



and manage the emotional climaxes is of course 
expected. This is so obvious that nothing more 
need be said about it, except to warn the music 
lover against the abuse of the loud tone as well 
as of the high tone. This abuse has always been 
palpable and monstrous; its proper parallel is found 
in the ranting of a fifth rate melodramatic stage 
villain. A note emitted with a shriek many de- 
grees higher than the usual compass of the throat, 
or a thunderous roar that shakes the chandeliers, 
will generally bring down the house in a tumult 
of applause, no matter how inappropriate it may 
be or how destitute of every beautiful quality. A 
dog will wag his tail when his ears are rubbed; 
an audience will howl with delight when a tenor 
rushes to the footlights, spreads his arms and peals 
out a high C like an engine whistle; — the differ- 
ence of intelligence between the canine and the 
human at this moment is not great. The passion 
for the big voice and the high voice regardless of 
all other considerations is the enemy of every fine 
feeling and encourages nothing but coarseness, vul- 
garity, falsehood. To singers addicted to such 
claptrap and to music lovers who applaud it, 
Hamlet's advice to the players is forever pertinent. 
After all is said about voice and technique (and 
it must be admitted that pure tones, skilfully con- 
trolled, are to be sought for with zeal unceasing), 
yet the higher criticism affirms that these things 
are tributary to expression, that singing is the 
rendering of words with a view to reenforcing the 


ideas, sentiments, and emotions set forth in the 
text. The music lover must not be wholly car- 
ried away by a ravishing voice and flawless exe- 
cution; he must listen through the tones to the 
words and must insist that the singer, like the 
actor, shall enunciate distinctly and pronounce 
correctly, and that every detail of phrasing, tone 
color, shading, and tempo shall be guided by the 
one unflagging determination to make the style 
of the song suit the spirit and diction of the verse. 
To sustain the correct sound of the vowels and 
the precise articulation of the consonants, and at 
the same time preserve the proper quality and 
amount of tone, is no doubt extremely difficult in 
many situations, and the singer is constantly under 
temptation to sacrifice the former to the latter. 
The hearer should make due allowance for these 
impediments in view of the fact that he is listening 
to music as well as to words, that the crispness of 
enunciation in ordinary speech is not possible in 
singing, with its frequent prolongation of a vowel 
over many notes and the special stress laid upon 
the musical vowels as compared with the unmu- 
sical consonants. Taking these considerations into 
account, the listener has the right, nevertheless, to 
expect that within the limits prescribed by the 
very nature of the vocal art the singer should re- 
main faithful to the belief that song is one way of 
delivering words, and that the Tightness of his 
work consists not only in the general conformity 
of style to the poetic sentiment, but also in the 



observance of all the refinements of vowel and con- 
sonant articulation. 

It is not simply that the hearer has a right to 
know what the singer is singing about. Purity 
and truth in the mere technical utterance depend 
much upon verbal accuracy. "The sheet anchor 
of vocalists," says the eminent baritone David 
Ffrangcon-Davies in his stimulating book, The 
Singing of the Future, " ought to be pure pronun- 
ciation — pure in regard to linguistic fitness and 
arising from general culture. Pure pronunciation 
(musical, sustained, fitting) once achieved insures 
right tone production, and consequently right tone." 
"As good actors' tone fits the word, so also must 
good singers' tone fit the word. The sung word 
should have the penetrating power which belongs 
to the fine elocutionist." "Vocal efficiency de- 
pends on mental efficiency. The character of the 
word and not of the tone per se is the safeguard." 

Furthermore, true artistry in song implies intel- 
lectual culture, for a careless disregard of the high 
claims of language indicates lack of education 
and of genuine delicacy of feeling. Especially 
must those who sing in English be heedful of this 
law, for the English language, with its unpar- 
alleled variety of vowel and diphthongal sounds 
(twenty or so may be distinguished) and its crowd- 
ing of consonants, is the most difficult of the 
tongues to pronounce perfectly while maintaining 
a pure musical intonation. "Two of the greatest 
tests of diction," says Mr. Louis Arthur Russell, 


"'are in sustaining correct vowel quality with all 
varieties of emotional color, and the ability to sus- 
tain a given emotional color throughout a phrase 
including a variety of consonants. This art is rarely 
exhibited in the English language among singers 
to-day." And in respect to consonants, Mr. Rus- 
sell says: "The explosive element, the click or 
puff, the breath rush or tick of consonant making, is 
not musical, therefore it becomes the task of the 
singer and the intellectual talker to avoid all noise 
in consonant emission, and to give the articulating 
effect of these mechanical parts of words without 
destroying the legato flow to which the vowels 
lend such kindly service." 

There is no more striking illustration of the ideal 
sought by the most advanced modern singers, both 
in music-drama and song, than is found in Richard 
Wagner's eloquent tribute to Ludwig Schnorr von 
Carolsfeld, whose Tannhauser and Tristan revealed 
even to the composer unknown depths in his own 
creations. In this tribute to his lamented friend and 
co-worker the master makes but a single passing 
allusion to his "mellow, full, and brilliant voice," 
and of tone formation, attack, agility, and compass 
there is not a word. It was the artist's supreme 
portrayal of "the torturing conflict in Tannhauser's 
soul" that stirred the composer's enthusiasm, "his 
frenzy of humiliation" in the second act, "the 
ecstasy of humiliation" in the third act; the great- 
ness of conception and vehemence of delivery in 
the last act of "Tristan and Isolde," by virtue of 


which, in spite of the intricacy and intensity of the 
orchestral music, "all attention, all interest, was 
centred in the actor, the singer," the orchestra being 
"wholly effaced by the singer, or — to put it more 
correctly — part and parcel of his utterance." 

From Rossi with his chromatic chain of trills, 
and Farinelli, driving the humiliated trumpeter 
from the field, to Ludwig Schnorr and Albert 
Niemann, intent only on forcing the word and the 
emotional situation into the consciousness of the 
auditor, the ideal of the vocal art has indeed made 
a long and devious journey. In the old days 
passion and psychologic interest tame and con- 
ventionalized, plot and text without independent 
interest, contrived only to give occasion for the 
display of technical skill; in the latter days the 
most acute emotions, elemental almost super- 
human passions, projected by a Wagner or a 
Strauss with an energy that bewilders the mind 
and shakes the heart. In one case the beauty of 
physical sound and delicate manipulation, in the 
other the beauty of intellectual conception, dra- 
matic accent, truth to the facts of the human spirit 
in its most urgent self-realization. 

Let the noblest features in these two ideals be 
combined and the consummate artist, godlike 
among his fellows, would appear. It is not im- 
possible. Once and again the world has seen a near 
approach to the longed-for paragon. Wagner at 
least never for a moment believed that poetic ex- 
pression and refined vocalism were exclusive of 


one another, that there is any inherent disharmony 
in their natures. The principles and standards 
of great singing are now virtually agreed upon, and 
the lover of music need not go astray in his judg- 
ments. The style may alter under the varying exi- 
gencies of recitative and aria, opera singing, church 
singing, song singing, the bel canto of Handel, the 
declamation of Wagner, — but the universal laws 
of the art remain, the application of them adjust- 
ing itself to the multifarious shades of thought and 
feeling that give to poetic works their special form 
and spirit. Appropriateness of delivery to theme, to 
musical and poetic character, must always be the 
amateur's desire. Back of the tone, inspiring, di- 
recting, coloring it, is the word. If both demands 
— technical perfection and truth of expression — 
are gratified, then let the hearer rejoice — rejoice 
because a noble artist has come into the world, 
and because he is himself able to appreciate a 
finished achievement of art. 




Every thoughtful lover of music finds that both 
before and after the enjoyment of masterpieces a 
multitude of questions spring up in his mind, all 
pointing toward the one supreme, inclusive prob- 
lem of art. What is the real nature of music ? he 
will inquire. What is the ultimate motive that 
inspires the creations of its masters? What does 
it mean to me ? What part does it play in the full 
life which I live in common with others? In my 
appreciation of it, what is the value of the tech- 
nical features which I am told I ought to under- 
stand? Is the study of form, harmony, methods 
of performance sufficient in itself, or is it a prepa- 
ration leading on to higher issues? That music 
is an art of expression rather than a temporary 
amusement for the sense seems plain to all who 
look beneath its surface, otherwise it never could 
have gained the place in human affairs which the 
ages have assigned it, never could have won its 
unshakable hold upon human affection. If music 
is an art of expression, what does it express? 
What are the scope and limits of its expressive 



power ? What are the means that music possesses 
for that utterance which reaches below the sense 
perception, below the acquirements of the under- 
standing, transmits a message from the soul of the 
composer to the soul of the listener, and estab- 
lishes a sympathy between any single hearer and 
his neighbors in the concert hall? What may we 
look for when we hear music — shall we receive 
definite communications of thought and the awa- 
kening of the visual imagination as in poetry, or is 
regulated sound restricted to the stirring of a 
vague and intangible sense of awe or delight like 
that which one feels in cathedral aisles or among 
the parterres of artfully arranged gardens? In a 
word, has music a meaning? And if so, is this 
meaning imparted by direct action of sound or 
through association of ideas? These questions, 
and many more, come before the lover of music 
who wishes to derive the utmost value that the art 
is able to afford. 

Some of these queries can never be fully an- 
swered; the attempt to discover the final secret of 
the power of tone upon the emotional nature leads 
to an insoluble mystery. The fact that this mys- 
tery is present in every musical experience is one 
cause of the peculiar fascination. The music 
lover finds, however, that his excitation by music 
is due at times to the direct, immediate action 
of sound, at other times partly or wholly to 
association of ideas. In the first case the word 
"expression" is somewhat misleading, for it neces- 



sarily carries the notion of something to be ex- 
pressed, and that something other than the very 
essential nature of the means of expression. For 
example, we say that a piece of music is beautiful, 
not that it expresses beauty; that it is, perhaps, 
rapid, not that it expresses speed. To be sure, we 
may say that a piece expresses cheerfulness, but 
as a multitude of compositions, totally unlike in 
melody, harmony, and rhythm, may convey the 
same notion, the mere fact of suggesting cheerful- 
ness adds very little to the value of the music to 
our minds. It might be better to apply Edmund 
Gurney ? s term " impressive" to music of indeter- 
minate meaning, rather than expressive, for if we 
feel such music to be beautiful and uplifting, our 
enjoyment seems to be brought down to a lower 
plane if we justify it on the ground of a state of 
mind that is transient and superficial. 

One discovers at the very beginning of ac- 
quaintance with music that it does not remain at 
the stage of vague suggestion, but has something 
in its veins that enables it to ally itself with ideas 
that inhabit a world outside of that purely abstract 
sphere to which it is confined so long as we think 
of it as composed only of artificial combinations of 
sounds. A great deal of music seems to us not 
merely impressive but expressive, and we often find 
our minds turned in definite directions, leading to 
actualities, when we seek to explain the hold it 
has upon us. So strong is the conviction on the 
part of many music lovers that no music is without 


some background of precise thought or feeling, that 
they constantly speak of fine music or fine per- 
formance as "expressive," regardless of the classi- 
fications of the aestheticians, suspecting that differ- 
ences among musical works in this respect are 
differences of degree and not of kind, and that even 
the most formal and abstract type, such as a clas- 
sic sonata, fugue, or set of variations, is stealthily 
trying to impart something that its composer had 
seen or felt, and has a significance beyond that of 
mere tonal decoration. 

In the present chapter I am concerned with the 
expressive power of music as distinct from its im- 
pressiveness, seeking to indicate to the music lover 
what he may properly look for besides mere agree- 
able tone patterns; striving also to assist him to 
form just judgments upon some of the attempts on 
the part of composers to win for their art a rep- 
resentative power, akin to that of the arts which 
convey exact ideas and deal with accepted symbols 
and concrete imagery. I shall try to remove cer- 
tain misapprehensions to which many casual hearers 
of music are subject, showing what the composers 
who are identified with the various types of music 
really attempt to do, and suggesting the proper 
manner of applying those standards of apprecia- 
tion by means of which the different degrees and 
methods of musical expression may be kept dis- 
tinct in the listener's mind. 

In order to clear the ground a few preliminary 
explanations are necessary. 


The world of musical composition is divided into 
two main departments, viz., vocal music and in- .w 
strumental music. Vocal works are themselves \j\ 
commonly composed of two elements, the voice /\ N 
part and the accompaniment. In the former the 
apparatus that produces the tone is not used for 
that purpose only, but also for the communication of 
definite thought. The ideas set forth by the words 
control the form and style of the music, and the 
tones, therefore, do not exist merely for giving 
pleasure to the ear, but also for the sake of bringing 
the mind of the hearer into accord with certain 
clearly realized conceptions. The music becomes 
not merely impressive, but representative or illus- 

Instrumental works may be divided into two k 
general classes: first, those which are concerned X, 
with the musical imagination solely, which contain 
no indication of any connection in the composer's 
mind with an experience or fancy that is derived 
from the external world, requiring of the hearer 
no knowledge of any fact, physical or metaphysical, 
beyond the rhythms, combinations, and tone colors 
of the musical piece itself. The listener may 
interpret such music in terms of concrete imagery 
if his bent of mind inclines him that way, — he may 
see dancing peasants in a Mozart rondo or a kneel- 
ing worshipper in a Beethoven adagio — but this is 
his own affair, for the composer gives him no hint 
that tends to turn his thought away from the con- 
templation of pure musical beauty. Works of this 



character have no precise titles, — only such labels 
as serve to indicate form, tempo, or general charac- 
ter, such as sonata, fugue, prelude, theme and va- 
riations, andante, presto, scherzo, etude, nocturne, 
fantaisie, reverie, caprice, and the like. Any one 
of these designations would apply to a large num- 
ber of pieces of quite dissimilar style. Such music 
is called " abstract' ' or " absolute" music. 

The other class of instrumental compositions is 
known as "representative," " illustrative," or "pro- 
gram" music. The composer puts at the head 
of his work a title or description which applies 
directly to this particular piece and could belong 
to no other. It associates the music at once 
with a definite conception that can be told in 
words; it arouses the image making faculty in 
the mind of the listener; it invites him to receive 
the music not as an emissary from a world of 
abstraction known only to the musical conscious- 
ness, but as an ally of poetic ideas, as a work 
whose peculiar character is drawn from an experi- 
ence preliminary to it, and derives a considerable 
part of its value from the clearness with which it 
illustrates an idea that has in itself an independent 
interest. The composer chooses a character, scene, 
or story from history, myth, or poetry, or he recalls 
a personal observation of nature or human life, 
or perhaps invents a tale or picture for himself, — 
then calling upon his powers of musical creation 
he writes a work which will be molded and col- 
ored by the literary or pictorial antecedent. Some- 


times, as Schumann tells us, the music, begun with- 
out any such object in view, suggests a train of 
thought or imagery to the composer, the mental 
eye, gradually awakened, holds fast to certain 
outlines amid the sounds, and the phrases condense 
and shape themselves under this new influence. 
Examples of this tendency could be adduced by 
the hundreds, — overtures to modern operas; sym- 
phonic poems, such as Liszt's "Tasso," Strauss' s 
" Death and Glorification"; program sympho- 
nies, such as Beethoven's " Pastoral" and Raff's 
"Leonore"; piano " character pieces," such as 
Schumann's "Carnaval," Liszt's " Years of Pil- 
grimage," MacDowelPs "Sea Pieces" and "Wood- 
land Sketches." It is evident that here is a close 
analogy to vocal music. The difference is that no 
words are heard during the progress of the music; 
it is a sort of inarticulate song or drama; the 
subject once announced in the title or "program" 
retreats into the background of the listener's con- 
sciousness, only to be evoked in a shadowy way as 
he discovers in the tone color and rhythms a 
mysterious something that guides his fantasy as 
well as delights his ear. 

In the attempt to determine the nature and the 
extent of the expressive power of music, we feel the 
need of drawing comparisons between music and 
the other arts, surveying her boundaries and theirs, 
discovering where these boundaries diverge and 
where they coincide or overlap. Does expression 
in music, we ask, signify the same as expression in 


poetry, or does the word involve a special and dis- 
tinctive connotation of its own? In order that 
speech and music may combine in mutual support 
they must have some element in common. In order 
that music may appear as appropriate to text or 
title in song, opera, or symphonic poem it must at 
least be able in itself to turn our mind in a definite 
direction, and the current of feeling that is set in 
motion by the words find itself drawn by a subtle 
affinity to the feeling aroused by the music. 

Writers on aesthetics love to separate the arts 
into two classes, viz., arts of presentation and arts 
of representation. The second category includes 
poetry, sculpture, and painting, — representative by 
reason of the fact that the subject matter with 
which they deal exists before the work of art comes 
into being, and is susceptible to an indefinite num- 
ber of forms and modes of treatment. Poetry may 
have for its subject a state of mind or an outward 
event or scene. Any kind of visible object, or an 
imaginary object having no counterpart in nature 
but composed of forms that have an actual exist- 
ence in other relations (such as an angel or a 
centaur) , may be the subject of a statue or a picture. 
In representative art, in other words, the idea and 
the form are not completely identical. These arts, 
even poetry, have also been called arts of imitation, 
because they reproduce in new guises and rela- 
tions that which has already been the object of 
observation or experience. 

In the presentative arts, on the other hand, in- 


eluding music, architecture, and the various artistic 
crafts (such as pottery, metal work, wood and ivory 
carving, textiles, etc.) the representative or imitative 
element is either absent or is reduced to such sub- 
ordination that the beholder is but casually re- 
minded of anything that has been the object of a 
previous experience. The idea, generally speaking, 
is contained in the form, virtually identical with it, 
and has no existence separate from the artist's con- / 
ception. The forms are abstract, proportional ar- 
rangements of lines, masses, colors, or tones; the 
beauty is in the pattern or design apart from those 
resemblances that would move us to demand truth 
to nature as a fundamental condition of approval. 
This statement must, of course, be qualified; a 
representative element often exists, there is a bor- 
rowing from nature; leaves and flowers may 
afford patterns for ornamental work in cornice and 
vase designs,— even animal and human forms may 
be so used; music sometimes admits imitations 
or at least obvious suggestions of natural sounds. 
But in all these cases truth to nature is subservient 
to a decorative purpose. A decoration may be de- 
fined as a form of artistic contrivance which has 
its interest in itself, apart from any object depicted 
or thought conveyed. Architecture, music, and 
the artistic crafts may be called arts of decoration, 
as distinct from the arts that teach or inform as 
well as please. 

This division of the arts into presentative and 
representative has, however, little value besides 


convenience of classification; in a deeper view of 
the case the distinction everywhere breaks down. 
They are all presentative as well as representative, 
impressive as well as expressive, for they exist 
primarily not to give instruction or to reproduce 
nature, but to give pleasure. They offer them- 
selves frankly to the senses; they make us glad, not 
because we have received an addition to our store 
of information, but because they have warmed and 
fed our emotional nature, awakened a conscious- 
ness of a purer ideal, stimulated a keener sym- 
pathy by the communication of spirit to spirit. 
Poetry, painting, and sculpture may indeed be em- 
ployed for the purpose of conveying scientific or 
moral truth, — other things being equal, the higher 
the truth the higher the worth of the work of art. 
But just at the moment when this definite instruc- 
tive or homiletic purpose becomes the apparent 
aim of the work, the appeal to the aesthetic sense 
becoming merely incidental, then the very element 
that constitutes art tends to withdraw from the work 
or from the receiver's consciousness. Never ought 
the decorative principle to be ignored. The out- 
lines, modelling and grouping in sculpture, the 
arrangement of lines, colors, lights, and shadows 
in a painting, the rhythm, metre, and mellifluous 
disposition of vowels and consonants in verse — 
these decorative features are essential even if we 
refuse to agree with the advocates of art for art's 
sake in considering them all-sufficient. The en- 
lightened connoisseur looks at once for sculptural 


qualities, pictorial qualities, or poetic qualities. 
Says Russell Sturgis: "What has the sculptor to 
say so important as this, — come and see this new- 
combination of masses beautifully composed, made 
up of details beautifully modelled?" The strong- 
est motive can never commend a picture to a dis- 
cerning eye if it is not beautifully wrought in com- 
position, drawing, tone, and harmony of tints and 
shades. A fine picture is always a fine pattern. 
A painter will make a portrait not simply for ac- 
curacy of likeness, but also for satisfaction of the 
art sense; he will so contrive composition, adjust 
pose, and arrange shades and colors that the picture 
will give pleasure to a connoisseur who knows not 
the name or station of the sitter. A landscape by 
Turner may not give a correct topographical rep- 
resentation of any place on earth. The Aphro- 
dite of Melos is perhaps not an Aphrodite at all; 
but it does not matter, — nameless and with the 
arms that might have revealed her identity forever 
lost, she is no less the object of the world's un- 
wavering homage. In all these instances there is 
indeed truth, — it is truth that gives them their 
ultimate validity; but it is not scientific truth or 
in the ordinary use of the word ethical truth; it is 
general, not particular truth, a truth that is iden- 
tified with beauty and finds its warrant in the 
pleasure of the sense, and beyond that in the con- 
sciousness that through these beautiful forms we 
come into vital relations with a mystic reality that 
survives all change. 



This same element, that stirs the emodon by 
immediate action of the sense without the aid of 
the defining power of the understanding, is found 
even in poetry, and must be reckoned with if one 
would know the secret of the spell that is woven 
by metric accents and the selected harmonies of 
words. The writer chooses his words not merely 
as symbols of ideas, but also for the beauty of 
sound and rhythmic vibration obtained by skilful 
adjustments of accents, metrical groups, rhymes, 
assonance of vowels and consonants. These 
musical effects, as they may properly be called, 
are not only employed for the sake of the charm 
of lilting cadence and artful modulation of sound, 
but they possess the expressive quality of music, 
the especial mood which the poet desires to 
arouse being in no slight degree dependent upon 
his use of the metrical and verbal devices which 
suggest various degrees of motion and force. Ev- 
ery poet considers carefully the need of a corre- 
spondence between the form of the verse and the 
thought and imagery, an ecstatic spring song re- 
quiring one kind of metre, an elegy another, a 
battle piece another, and so on. Many of the 
world's famous poems are not remarkable for 
originality or depth of thought, but endure by 
virtue of a certain haunting sweetness that is not 
in the imagery alone, but equally in their melody. 

The element to which I allude is that which van- 
ishes when the JEneid or the Antigone is translated 
into English prose; it is found in "the surge and 


thunder of the Odyssey," in the voluptuous swell of 
Swinburne or Victor Hugo; it is the dying fall 
that comes soothingly upon the senses in an ode 
of Keats. It is the quality that becomes faint even 
to vanishing when verse is read in silence. There 
is no need to say, of course, that poetry is vastly 
more than this, that a man may be a master of 
verbal music and after all have little that is worth 
saying. Poetry is, no doubt, less dependent than 
any other art upon the sensuous and formal ele- 
ments, but how much sound and form have to do 
even with the meaning itself any one can discover 
if he will take any great piece of verse, say a son- 
net by Milton or Wordsworth, change the order of 
the words, substitute synonyms, break up the 
rhythms into unrhythmical phrases, and then see 
how much even of the sense is left. Such an 
experiment will afford an important lesson in the 
primer of poetry, yes, in the primer of art. 

Still less in the other arts can the spiritual message 
be separated from the form. There is an utterance 
that is not the language of speech; it is incapable 
even of translation into words. It is found, as we 
have noticed, in the artful tracing of lines, grada- 
tions, and colors in painting, setting up a sort of 
rhythmical movement in consciousness as the eye 
passes from one point to another. It is found in 
the proportioned masses and decorative patterns 
of architecture, in the lines and bosses of sculpture, 
in the buoyant measured evolutions of the dance, 
in the mellow sound of a voice, in the molding of 


a vase, or the opulent colors of a Persian rug. It 
is a communication more ancient than speech, and 
it is intuitively understood by all who have attained 
a truly self-conscious life. It is the business of the 
art lover to clear his senses and cultivate in himself 
that capacity which responds to the touch of beauty 
in whatever guise of shape or color or sound. The 
common man, being confined to language for the 
conveyance of his mental states, finds it difficult 
to realize that there are other very potent means 
of expression — that there are pictorial, sculptural, 
and musical ideas as well as verbal ideas. The 
appreciation of art expands as soon as one perceives 
that there are broad regions of spiritual experience 
which words cannot traverse, and that the other 
arts find spheres of action beyond the line where 
language ends. We must, therefore, study their 
mode of utterance — their technique, in a word, 
for "the sensuous material of each art," to employ 
Walter Pater's classic statement, "brings with it a 
special phase or quality of beauty, untranslatable 
into the forms of any other, an order of impressions 
distinct in kind. These impressions have this in 
common, however, that they give pleasure to the 
senses of sight or hearing; and this beauty is an 
end and not a means — adding nothing, it may be, 
to that experience and efficiency which the or- 
dinary mechanical duties of the day require, but 
giving us consciousness of a fuller, more perfect 
life, in which our separate existence is for the 
moment merged.' ' 



It is in view of this attribute of all fine art which 
I have endeavored to describe that Walter Pater, 
in his well known essay already cited, declares that 
music "is the true type and measure of perfected 
art," because " music presents no words, no mat- 
ter of sentiment or thought separable from the 
special form in which it is conveyed to us." All 
art, Pater goes on to say, is constantly laboring that 
the form, the mode of handling, "should become an 
end in itself, should penetrate every part of the 
matter." "Art is always striving to be indepen- 
dent of the mere intelligence, to become a matter 
of pure perception, to get rid of its responsibility 
to its subject or material." "It is the art of musie 
which most completely realizes this artistic ideal, 
this perfect identification of form and matter. In 
its ideal, consummate moments, the end is not 
distinct from the means, the form from the matter, 
the subject from the expression; they inhere in 
and completely saturate each other; and to it, 
therefore, to the condition of its perfect moments, 
all the arts may be supposed constantly to tend 
and aspire. . . . Therefore, although each art has 
its incommunicable element, its untranslatable or- 
der of impressions, its unique mode of reaching 
the ' imaginative reason,' yet the arts may be rep- 
resented as continually struggling after the law or 
principle of music, to a condition which music alone 
completely realizes." 

That such a tendency as Pater here declares is 
found in all art may be disputed — his statement 


is too sweeping. That the "idea" is not separable 
from the special form it has taken is to a certain 
extent true of all art — the very definition of art 
is involved in this — but the fusion is more com- 
plete in some instances than in others. There are 
works of sculpture and painting which appeal 
"directly to the roots of emotion and sensation," 
and stir the mind in ways which words are quite 
unable to explain. Take, for example, Michel- 
angelo's recumbent figures upon the Medici tombs, 
and consider the number of wholly unsatisfactory 
interpretations that have been drawn from them — • 
unsatisfactory not because the sculptor expressed 
nothing in the statues, but because he expressed 
so much, expressed ideas so profound that language 
fails to encompass them. It was not affectation 
that impelled John Addington Symonds, in pres- 
ence of these grand and mysterious shapes, to call 
up phrases of Beethoven. For it is only music that 
has the power of evoking ideas so mighty and ex- 
tended as those which Michelangelo's oppressed 
giants so dimly body forth. Sculpture and music 
are the arts most adequate to render the one uni- 
versal theme of all art, which is the striving of the 
soul for release from all that restricts its powers. 

Although Pater's assertion in regard to art in 
general needs to be qualified and limited, his state- 
ment in regard to the nature of music, that the 
subject is not distinct from the expression, may be 
accepted. Change a note in a passage and the 
idea is changed, for the passage has no meaning 


apart from the particular note successions that com- 
pose it. Neither can music define or describe or 
personify. Music is sometimes called a language, 
but it is not a language. Words are artificial 
counters which have been agreed upon by all mem- 
bers of any nation or tribe as standing for certain 
objects or mental concepts. But there are no 
tones or groups of tones which have been adopted 
as symbols of particular objects of perception or 
thought. I may say, for instance : The white birch 
tree is putting forth green leaves. The verb, the 
nouns, and the adjectives are conventional collo- 
cations of sounds and letters applied by common 
consent to certain objects or processes. But there 
are no chords or musical phrases that have been 
fixed upon to convey the notion of tree, leaf, growth, 
whiteness, or greenness. A composer may have a 
budding birch tree in his mind when he writes a 
piece of music, and his composition will have 
delicacy, lightness, grace; but the listener may be 
reminded of a very different object, or of no object 
at all. 

In comparing music with poetry, John Addington 
Symonds writes: "The sphere of music is in sen- 
suous perception; the sphere of poetry is in intel- 
ligence. Music, dealing with pure sound, must 
always be vaguer in significance than poetry, which 
deals with words. We cannot fail to understand 
what words are intended to convey; we may very 
easily interpret in a hundred different ways the 
message of sound. . . . The exact value of a 


counter is better understood when it is a word 
than when it is a chord, because all that a word 
conveys has already become a thought, while all 
that musical sounds convey remains within the 
region of emotion which has not been intellectual- 
ized. Poetry touches emotion through the think- 
ing faculty. If music reaches the thinking faculty 
at all, it is through fibres of emotion. But emotion, 
when it has become thought, has already lost a 
portion of its force, and has taken to itself a some- 
thing alien to its nature. Therefore the message 
of music can never rightly be translated into 
words." Mr. Birge Harrison compares music to 
color in the art of painting. "Both are sensuous 
and passional, playing directly upon the emotions 
and producing their effects by some mysterious 
appeal to the subconscious, whose ways have as 
yet eluded us. Both, in their highest expression, 
come nearer to the perfect ideal of beauty as felt 
and understood by humanity than any other form 
of art. Finally, both are stimulating and men- 
tally suggestive, while attempting no direct intel- 
lectual expression." 

In the interest of the intelligent appreciation of 
music, it is important that these distinctions should 
be anchored in our minds lest the true beauty and 
meaning of music escape us. Language is defi- 
nition and limitation; music by itself alone does 
not limit or explain; when acted upon by pure 
tone we are transported into a region without 
boundaries. For the moment that world is real, 


but it has not the reality of previous non- musical 

All this is true, and yet it is also true that com- 
posers and music lovers have not been satisfied 
with this vague and generalized impression which 
cold analysis would at first sight seem to prove is 
music's only province. Music has always been 
straining at its tether, striving to break away from 
its bondage and enlarge its field of action. A 
marked trait in music is the effort which Pater 
notes in passing as characteristic of all art — an 
endeavor to pass into the condition of some other 
mode of utterance and assume prerogatives that 
belong more strictly to the heritage of its sister 
arts. The art which music most persistently strug- 
gles to supplant, or else to bring into an alliance 
for mutual advantage, is the art of language. 
Hence the prevalence of "program" or "repre- 
sentative" music in later days, and the union of 
verse and tone in lyric and dramatic song from the 
very beginning of speech and melody. 

The alliance of words and music has been con- 
stant through the greater part of human history. 
Abstract instrumental music, in a state so devel- 
oped and specialized that it can be dignified with 
the title of fine art, belongs only to the last three 
centuries. It had its period of infancy, of gradual 
awakening to self-consciousness in the seventeenth 
century, of independent vigor and balance of 
faculty in the epoch of the Bachs, Haydn, and 
Mozart in the eighteenth century, of complete 


adaptability of form to the needs of expression in 
the masters of the nineteenth century, beginning 
with Beethoven. In the first two of these epochs, 
when independent instrumental music was pass- 
ing, with many growing pains, from feebleness 
into full self-possession, tone wedded to words in 
opera, oratorio, and church music was exhibiting, 
under the hands of Gluck, Mozart, Handel, and 
Sebastian Bach, the enormous power of expression 
it contains when free to take its character from 
the suggestion of precise thought and definite situ- 
ations. Taught by the success of these endeavors, 
composers grew more and more inclined to carry 
over the quality of direct characteristic expression 
to abstract instrumental music, in which there was 
to be found a freedom and variety of style that 
could not exist in the human voice alone on account 
of its physical limitations. This effort led to the 
rupture of the old strict instrumental forms of 
sonata, fugue, and rondo, as in Beethoven's last 
quartets and sonatas, where the instruments seem 
at times almost to usurp the faculty of speech. 
The next step (not in chronological order neces- 
sarily, but as an evolutionary stage) was program 
or representative music, where new forms and 
treatment appeared as required by conceptions to 
which the composer gave his hearers a clew in 
title, program, motto, or allusion. Every piece 
of representative music, therefore, is in greater or 
less dimensions a "song without words," a voice- 
less lyric, epic, or drama, claiming to employ in an 



independent sphere the special powers of expres- 
sion which music had demonstrated while still in 
the leading-strings of text and stage action. 

Representative music is by no means a phenom- 
enon peculiar to the nineteenth century, but appears 
in many crude productions of the youthful and 
infantile periods. But in the nineteenth century 
means of emotional utterance before unsuspected 
have been disclosed in the natural progress from 
strictness to freedom in form, and in the perfection 
of instruments; and so far has the expressive 
power of tones been carried that music at times 
seems on the way to the invention of symbols that 
will come near to appropriating some of the pre- 
rogatives of language. 

In this aspect of the situation the music lover 
finds a problem much more profound than that of 
training his faculties of observation in the tracing 
of harmonies, rhythms, and forms. This prelim- 
inary exercise in the appreciation of form is neces- 
sary, as I have tried to show, but it is only pre- 
liminary. No thinking mind will remain content 
with the mere admiration of skill in fashioning 
tone patterns of intricate device, or the mechanical 
dexterity of a pianist or the pyrotechnics of a col- 
orature singer. The emotion must be aroused, 
and in works of human contrivance it is only 
emotion that can beget emotion. The composer 
must have felt something, — what did he feel ? 
There is a man behind the work and he is imparting 
something of himself, — what is that something? 


Works of musical art are not put together in ac- 
cordance with mathematical formulas, — they come 
from life and they share the stirring unexpectedness 
of life. Music lovers have never been content with 
a pleasure that depends upon the merely decora- 
tive function of music, and music, as we have 
seen, is ever struggling to liberate itself from the 
confinement that seems inherent in its very mate- 
rial. Music is a mighty intensifier of emotions and 
moods; moreover it produces in the mind such a 
state of tremulous expectancy that it becomes eager 
to move in definite directions, just as when acted 
upon by words or external incitements of any kind. 
Liturgies, dramatic, epic, and lyric poetry have 
always joined hands with music because in this 
union there was an added strength. The most 
universal and powerful interests — religion, patriot- 
ism, and the love of the sexes — have always sought 
music as a reenforcement of their appeals. All this 
could hardly be true if there were no correspond- 
ence between music and the other means of expres- 
sion. One would not associate together a piece of 
music and a bit of purely decorative work — an 
architectural molding or a drawing-room frieze — 
and imagine that the former was in any way a 
reflex or interpretation of the latter. We may say 
with confidence that there is no music that is abso- 
lutely unexpressive — a meaningless, empty play of 
sounds. The music may be comparatively trivial, 
but its effect is not that of a phenomenon wholly 
external to ourselves. Every positive rhythm, 


every rise and subsidence of tone volume, every 
distinctive tone color sets something in motion 
within us, and that something is felt as an ingrown 
constituent of our emotional life. 

This impression is due primarily to the nature of 
tone as unlocalized, pervading our whole nervous 
organization and setting it in vibration; and sec- 
ondly to our notion of music as something moving, 
the phrases as they succeed one another seeming to 
contain an idea that constantly advances until a 
foreseen goal is reached. The world within us and 
the world without us are perceived in terms of flux 
and change; movement is a manifestation of energy 
and implies to us life. Music is likewise move- 
ment, energy, and action; and when we add the 
emotional elements of rhythm and changes of f 
force, speed, and color, this movement, this life, \ 
gives us the impression of proceeding from con- ,J 
sciousness and manifesting consciousness. The 
musical movement may be swift or slow, now 
accelerated, now delayed, suggesting notions of 
ardency or languor, impatience or indolence, ac- 
cession of vitality or loss of the same. A compo- 
sition may hasten at its close into prestissimo — 
energy triumphant; or it may end retarded, sig- 
nifying exhaustion or relief after the strain of effort. 
Within this movement there are incalculable varie- 
ties of rhythm, accents, interruptions, ever chang- 
ing relations of longer and shorter notes, figures of 
innumerable modifications, all held in the control of 
regular beats and ordered measures — a counterpart 


in sound of the gestures and attitudes which make 
physical action so vivid an expression of feeling. 

Equally abundant and positive are the expres- 
sional effects produced by the degrees of loud 
and soft — contrasts startling in their vehemence, 
shades of tone exceedingly minute and subtle in 
suggestion, not less efficient than changes of speed 
for conveying ideas of force in variation and con- 
trast. Not less definite in significance are the 
changes between high notes and low notes, be- 
tween consonance and dissonance. Lightness and 
heaviness, ease and constraint, elation and depres- 
sion, sweetness and harshness, ecstasy and anguish 
— these and a host of other intimations may be 
offered in terms of differences of pitch and interval. 
Then there are the modifications of tone color, at 
times suggestive of the human voice or sounds of 
external nature; again imparting precise ideas by 
association, as the trumpet with war, the horn 
with the hunt and forest life, the flute and oboe 
with peaceful idyllic surroundings; again moving 
the mind to a less direct expectancy, as when the 
trombone peals in tones of solemn grandeur, or 
the bassoon or the viola diffuses around us an 
atmosphere oppressive with ominous voices. Take 
all these elements — pitch, speed, shading, con- 
sonance and dissonance, rhythm, timbre, force — 
try to conceive all their varieties of combination, 
contrast, and succession, and no speculation is able 
to declare the time when their possibilities of sug- 
gestion will be exhausted. 



It is not strange, then, that with the hearing of mu- 
sic the imagination wakes from its slumber. Hardly 
a strain can be found in all the array of the world's 
music that may not be united to some reality of 
the soul's experience. Music is a continuous met- 
aphor. The antithesis between abstract and char- 
acteristic beauty — between absolute and repre- 
sentative music — is constantly dissolving. Music 
contains not a mere general undefined charm of 
tones sensuously colored and ingeniously grouped 
like geometrical patterns on the wall of a Moorish 
mosque, but a beauty that is distinctive and deter- 
minate; not simply lifting the soul that it may 
subside again to the same level as before, but mov- 
ing it in a particular direction and establishing it 
upon a new mount of vision. It is, therefore, no 
strained artificial connection with life that has 
been forced by the composers upon music; the 
relationship is in the nature of things, and the 
vocal composers and the writers of program music 
have sought to explore all the affinities by which 
music shows itself qualified in its special way to 
act as an exponent as well as an adornment of life. 

In spite of all these considerations, there is still 
controversy over that form of music known as 
program or representative music. Although it has 
been accepted by a very large portion, probably the 
larger portion of the musical world, and is the 
most marked tendency of the day, there are many 
who deny its legitimacy and resist its progress. 
Few, indeed, would affirm that music is to be 


classed as a merely decorative art, that it has no 
power of expression whatever; and yet there is a 
type of mind that takes what one may call the 
mystical attitude toward music, prefers to escape 
from the world of actuality when listening to it, 
and interprets it, if at all, in the spirit of Thoreau, 
Browning, and Hearn, as I have quoted them in a 
former chapter, finding in it a refuge from the 
concrete, the definite, and the limited. Others 
wish that their fancy should not be fettered by 
words, titles or program, but -would sketch their 
own pictures and dream their own dreams. The 
adherent of the abstract school asks with a tone 
of triumph if the program school has any works 
to show that are comparable to the titleless sym- 
phonies and quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, 
Schumann, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky, and the 
sonatas, Etudes, ballades, scherzos, and impromptus 
of Chopin. The program advocate points to the 
revelation made by Wagner of the sublime possi- 
bilities of music when directed to definite pictorial 
and expressional ends, speaks of program music 
as yet in its infancy, and affirms that the ferment 
of experiment in representative concert music of 
to-day is prophetic of an epoch that will mark an 
advanced stage in musical evolution. 

Wisdom decrees the grateful acceptance of the 
noble achievements of both schools. In the house 
of art there are many mansions. We can rejoice 
that music has now gone so far that every tem- 
perament, every opinion, may find that which is 


suited to its need. Our old principle comes back 
again to guide us, — does any single work fulfil its 
intention ? Is it adapted to its special end ? Does 
it satisfy the demand of one who takes his critical 
footing upon the composer's own ground? Is it 
beautiful, strong, and complete as judged by the 
laws that are involved in the class to which it be- 
longs ? The judgment of works of program music 
is not based upon the same evidence that applies 
to abstract music. Let us accept both, and compare 
individual works, not with one another, but with 
the standard which the purpose of each implies. 

Let us now see what are the privileges and the 
obligations of the composer of program music, 
and what also must be the attitude and the prepa- 
ration of the music lover who wishes to judge 
fairly and enjoy rightly. 

It must first be observed that the presence of a 
specific title does not necessarily make a piece of 
music representative. Many works that are classed 
as program music are such only in name. It is 
well known that composers often write a piece in 
the abstract way, under the direction of the merely 
musical impulse, and then hunt about for a title that 
will commend the piece to the hearer's interest. A 
work of representative music is properly one in 
which the title very obviously belongs to that 
particular work and to no other. There must 
be something in the harmonies, rhythms, and tone 
colors that inevitably moves the mind to seek affili- 
ations in the world outside musical forms, and the 


title comes in to lend assistance. The value of 
the preliminary subject or program to the instru- 
mental composer is plain. It is to him what a 
text or plot is to the writer of a song, oratorio, or 
opera. His musical invention is stimulated; new 
forms, new harmonies, rhythms, and tone colors 
spring to life in his imagination under the touch of 
some external image or inward recollection. To 
the wide prevalence of this incentive is largely due 
the vast expansion of musical resources that is a 
distinguished feature of our age. It is a tendency 
which has emancipated music from laws which 
would soon have become burdensone. Strict forms 
relax as a new principle of cohesion is substituted. 
Inexhaustible variety ensues in all the appliances 
of musical expression, and invention rejoices in 
the thought that complete freedom is allowed so 
long as truth to the spirit of the subject is main- 
tained. The old law of conformity to type having 
been abrogated, each work acquires an individu- 
ality. Music thus joins with the characteristic ten- 
dency of the nineteenth century, by which art has 
broken away from academic authority, permitting 
the artist, whether he be poet, painter, sculptor, or 
musician, to follow gladly the dictates of his own 
genius, to choose whatever subject in nature or 
human life seems to him worthy of presentation, 
and to treat it in his own personal way, not a con- 
ventional way taught in the schools, encouraging 
him to find beauty in character as well as in form, 
to break down the barrier that formerly existed 


between art and the larger human concerns, to 
make art in the broadest sense a confederate of 
reality. The spirit of the artist now has free play, 
and art, shaping itself anew, creates a new tech- 
nique while it pursues a new ideal. 

It is, of course, possible that music, like painting 
and sculpture, may go so far in this direction that 
ugliness results instead of beauty. Music has so 
little power of characterization that the loss of 
sensuous beauty cannot be made good by those 
compensations which the other arts have at their 
command. A picture like Watts's "Mammon," or 
a portrait of a court dwarf by Velasquez, where 
ugliness becomes a means of conveying truth, can 
have no precise counterpart in a musical composi- 
tion. Composers, however, are showing discon- 
tent with the precept, accepted hitherto as involved 
in the very nature of music, that expression must 
not go beyond the pleasure of the ear. Something 
much like musical realism — if such can exist — is 
attempted by Richard Strauss and others of his 
school. Strauss affirms by implication that music 
may deal with what is physically or morally repul- 
sive, and may, even logically must, become ugly in 
fulfilling its office of dramatic expression. It is 
possible that the musical world will eventually 
grant to music this privilege of foregoing beauty 
for the sake of characterization. If so, restriction 
will probably be applied to the choice of the sub- 
ject for representation rather than to the expressive 
development of music itself. 


How far harshness and formal license may be 
carried for the sake of expression is one of the 
absorbing aesthetic questions of the day. The 
determination is not quite the same in program 
music as in the opera. The two cases are not 
quite parallel. Characterization will give less dis- 
pleasure in dramatic music when it runs to ex- 
tremes of violence and roughness because the 
musical effect does not stand alone; it is only one 
ingredient in a compound in which words, action, 
and scenery take up music into themselves and 
subdue it to the common intent. But in a concert 
orchestral piece the program, once read, is put 
aside and fades into the background of conscious- 
ness, and the music asserts itself as unrelated 
sound rather than as a reflection of this or that con- 
crete idea. It must never be forgotten that in vocal 
music the distinct content of thought lies in the 
words and not in the music. In program music 
the content of thought has been given us before 
the music began, and the music has but a feeble 
and indirect means of keeping that thought alive. 
The disadvantage of a program that consists in a 
long series of details, as in Berlioz's "Symphonie 
fantastique" and most of the symphonic poems of 
Richard Strauss, is either that the mind will be 
turned away from the music in the effort to follow 
the program by means of the memory or, worse 
still, by means of the printed description, or else 
in concentrating the attention upon the sounds for 
the sake of the enjoyment of the ear the music 



will often appear incoherent and pointless. One 
might maintain, therefore, that music which re- 
quires the accompaniment of an elaborate story for 
its interest is an aesthetic error. Where the effort 
is successful in any particular instance, the success 
will be due to the composer's wisdom in selecting 
his subject, his ability to write music that is not 
wholly dependent upon the poetic thought for its 
effect, and his skill in maintaining by means of 
tone the vivid impression of the emotional ground- 
work even after the details which supply the motive 
have withdrawn from the listener's mind. The dif- 
ficulties indeed are great; so great that program 
music is still in the experimental stage. 

I have spoken of the value of a program to 
the composer in quickening his invention and in- 
ducing variety in his forms and colors. Now what 
is the value of a program to the listener? It is 
not simply that the program makes the music 
intelligible. Good wine needs no bush, and the 
music of a master may fill our rapture to the brim 
through the sufficient glory of melody and harmony 
alone. The real value of a program, it seems to 
me, is that, like the words of a song or the plot 
of an opera, it arouses a preliminary mood, begets 
an expectation. The music is not required to 
awaken the hearer from a passive state; his mind 
is already active, on the alert for a beautiful thought 
or image, and when the music arises two pleasures 
have been created — the pleasure in beautiful 
sound, and the pleasure of the inward eye or the 


memory of something known and already loved* 
The hearer receives, perhaps, some noble thought 
in a vesture of fitting words, such as Lamartine's 
vision of life, chosen by Liszt for illustration in his 
symphonic poem, "The Preludes." Or it may be 
the woful story of Francesca and Paolo; the moving 
fate of the lovers of Verona; the sweet village idyl 
of Hermann and Dorothea; some splendid legend 
from the Greek myths or the Arthurian cycle; a 
romance of Arabian chivalry, Or the composer 
puts at the head of his piece a name, a hint, an 
allusion that brings before us some intimate scene 
of domestic life dear to the common heart. Or it 
may be some glorious aspect of nature, moonlight 
on still water, a stormy sea, a forest glade, summer 
twilight with the gathering host of stars, mountain 
summits where the sunrise plants its banner and 
winds chant their monotonous, everlasting song. Or 
the title may contain the mere intimation of joy or 
sorrow — a touch of nature that makes the whole 
world kin — a mood, a longing, a desire for human 
fellowship, a religious hope. In all these cases not 
only does the music offer an interest of characteri- 
zation, but the listener finds his mood attuned to 
the touch of a two-fold beauty, and when the 
sounds begin they are haunted by another charm 
drawn from the presence of a cognate loveliness 
antedating the music, but now become a part of 
the endearing spell that is woven upon his im- 
Accepting program music, not only as legiti- 


mate on aesthetic principles, but also as an inevi- 
table stage in the evolution of tonal art, the music 
lover has only to consider the value to himself of 
the particular works of this class that may come 
to his attention. He may inquire, Is the sutject 
worthy of the use the composer has made of it? 
Is it suited to the special nature of musical expres- 
sion ? Does the music conform to the idea ? And, 
most of all, does it have an artistic value over and 
above its cleverness as illustration? Music that 
has no merit in itself is none the better because 
the composer has shown a fine poetic taste in his 
choice of a motive. Many inferior musical pieces, 
like unworthy individuals, are received into good 
society on the strength of reputable introductions. 
It is a common error in respect to vocal music, — 
a beautiful poem, a sublime Scripture, a strong 
oratorio theme or opera plot will often beguile the 
hearer into imputing to the music a merit which it 
does not possess in its own right. It is the old 
trap into which so many fall who are always, often 
unwittingly, looking for literary values in art 
instead of musical or pictorial or sculptural values. 
Equally in error is the listener who cares only for 
music in the abstract, ignores the subject, judges 
the music as he judges an untitled sonata or string 
quartet, pronouncing the music good or bad as 
the melodies and harmonies please him or do not 
please him. If the title or program meant noth- 
ing in relation to the composer's inspiration he 
would not have chosen it, and if it meant something 


to the composer it means something to the hearer. 
One of the fundamental canons of art criticism is 
that the critic must take the artist's standpoint, 
and appraise the work in accordance with the com- 
pleteness with which it fulfils its author's intention. 
Program music always contains features which 
would not be there if they had not been suggested 
by certain elements in the program, and the 
critic must interpret them with an eye to their 
character as illustrative material. It is the same 
principle that holds in vocal music, and it is con- 
trary to reason to accept the principle in the one 
form of art and reject it in the other. And yet 
men have implicitly disowned it even in vocal 
music. Long struggles were needed to get it 
adopted in the judgment of the opera. Wagner's 
early opponents were in most cases people who 
refused to hear his music as an outgrowth of the 
poetry and the scene, and because they could not 
find in his works that particular form and quality 
of melody to which they had been habituated they 
tried their utmost to drive those superb creations 
into outer darkness. Judged by this false standard 
some of the finest modern songs would miss their 
aim, even if they were not declared positively offens- 
ive. If the composer has something definite to ex- 
press and conveys it with telling force, then the 
music takes into itself some measure of the beauty 
or power of the poetic theme, and although one kind 
of value may seem to be sacrificed for another, yet 
if the composer is a master of his art and can 


penetrate the harsh or irregular music with the 
heart throb of a genuine emotion the hearer re- 
ceives an abundant compensation. 

It is the duty of the hearer, in the case of rep- 
resentative instrumental music, song, cantata, or 
opera, to possess himself of the poetic subject — 
the program in program music, the poem in the 
song, the plot and significance of the characters 
in the opera — as fully as possible before the work 
is performed; then with his mind properly adjusted 
in view of the composer's intention he will be in a 
position to do justice to the composer's achievement. 
Considering the vast range of suggestion which 
modern music covers, this obligation involves rather 
large acquisitions on the part of the habitue of 
concerts and operas. Only an encyclopedic knowl- 
edge of history and literature would enable one to 
meet all the works of the modern composers with 
a sufficiently prepared mind. In order to realize 
this, let one peruse such books as Mr. Lawrence 
Gilman's Story of Symphonic Music, Mr. George P. 
Upton's Concert Guide, or any of the numerous 
handbooks of operatic plots. Intimate acquaint- 
ance, however, is more profitable than special 
" cramming," and other things being equal the 
man of wide familiarity with the records of human 
thought will have an advantage over another 
whose literary experience is more restricted. It 
is obvious that one who has never read A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream will miss much of the 
charm of Mendelssohn's overture. He will get 


the melodies and tone colors, but he will not get 
the characterization. And a conductor who puts 
this overture on a concert program will not 
print an abstract of the play — a certain amount of 
knowledge of Shakespeare on the part of the audi- 
ence he will take for granted, A composer who 
draws his motive from the Hebrew Scriptures, 
from The Iliad, from Faust, from The Divine 
Comedy, from The Idylls of the King, from the 
Greek or Norse mythology, assumes an acquaint- 
ance on the part of the public which every music 
lover should wish to justify so far as he himself 
is concerned. His general culture should be able 
to meet the composer's challenge, but if it does 
not, let him not despise the help which the com- 
mentators offer him. 

I have said that all music is in a certain sense 
expressive, representative. Notwithstanding, the 
most literally imitative piece of program music ex- 
ists for something better than description or illus- 
tration, its worth, if it is worth anything, is that it 
transcends its theme. The aestheticians have shown 
us that the school of realism in painting and fiction 
can never fulfil its avowed intention because an ex- 
act reproduction of nature is impossible in art, and 
that the painter or writer must render nature as he 
sees it, and can never escape the law that every im- 
pression is modified by the nature of his tempera- 
ment, his habits, and his convictions. In music 
realism, in the conventional sense of the theorists, 
does not exist at all; the most literally minded 


among the program composers gives us not a de- 
lineation, but an emotional reaction delivered to the 
listener in abstract musical terms. The musician's 
forms are of his own creation, having no models in 
nature. His materials — notes of various pitch and 
timbre, combined in rhythmic phrases and har- 
monic groups — have primarily an independent 
beauty of their own, and secondarily an expressive 
character through symbolism, analogy, and associa- 
tion, together with a very slight imitative quality 
which acts far more by suggestion than by an 
actual reproduction of natural sounds. 

In view of this let the music lover accept the 
expressive gift of music, lending due weight to the 
real purpose of text or program and its ability to 
guide the imagination, and then listen with mind ab- 
sorbed in the music and not intent on finding pict- 
ures or stories in every passage that strikes him 
as unusual. People ask, What does this or that 
music "mean"? What does the opening phrase 
of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony mean? And one 
imagines that something of great importance has 
been added when one is told that Beethoven said: 
"Fate knocks at the door." The trivial "inter- 
pretations" in which musicians sometimes indulge 
move one to something stronger than impatience. 
A professor of music in one of our colleges, writ- 
ing in a magazine on the subject of teaching musi- 
cal appreciation, advises that students be encour- 
aged to look for descriptions in the pieces they 
hear. He cites a passage in Chopin's Ballade in 


G minor, and says that it depicts a cavalcade of 
knights and ladies. Is a group of men and women 
on horseback very important to us? Does the 
glorious music of Chopin's masterpiece appeal to 
nothing deeper than a child's delight in a circus 
procession? Will this expounder of the sublime 
in terms of the trivial inform us which phrase 
describes a horse's tail, which chord is a knight's 
plume or a lady's head-dress? The poet Sidney 
Lanier, after asserting in Music and Poetry that 
" musical "tones have in themselves no meaning 
appreciable by the human intellect," a few pages 
farther on, with delightful inconsistency, gives us 
an " interpretation" of Beethoven's Seventh sym- 
phony, in which he imagines the composer " com- 
ing back from a journey under bases of moun- 
tains and telling us what he saw," and speaks 
approvingly of some one's comparison of the third 
movement to "the flight of bats and swallows from 
a ruin." Is not this pathetic? Alas for him, be 
he poet or clown, whose mind is occupied with 
bats when breathed upon by that heavenly song in 
D major! 

If those who give their lives to music are misled 
into degrading their musical experiences, the odd 
perversities of the uninstructed need not surprise 
us. A psychologist, who is investigating the phe- 
nomena of musical receptivity, informs me — what 
perhaps I should have known before — that cer- 
tain literalists believe, for instance, that music 
may express anger, and to such an extent that one 


who hears it will feel indignation even to the mani- 
festation of it in flushed cheeks and clenched fists. 
If such an effect could occur and were at all fre- 
quent, orchestral conductors would need to take 
precautions for their safety, for no one could tell 
when such music as that of Wagner's Alberich 
robbed of his gold might excite some choleric 
occupant of a front seat in the parquet to actual 
physical violence. 

Let us take high ground in our musical enjoy- 
ments, and believe that in the last resort the essen- 
tial things in music are so profound that only her 
own idiom can declare them. We may properly 
give the rein to our imagination, but let us not 
pervert the composer's message or transgress the 
laws of art. What music is, in its final analysis, 
even its masters do not know. Schumann, while 
explaining that musicians are often affected by out- 
ward influences and impressions, declares that 
"people err when they suppose that composers 
prepare pens and paper with the deliberate prede- 
termination of sketching, painting, expressing this 
or that." " Where the youth of eighteen hears a 
world-famous occurrence in a musical work, a man 
only perceives some rustic event, while the musi- 
cian probably never thought of either, but simply 
gave the best music that he happened to feel within 
him just then." 

The problem of the nature and extent of musical 
expression is the most difficult in art. Each music 
lover must solve it for himself. It is beyond doubt 


that there are hidden meanings in multitudes of 
works that bear no title and are connected with 
no text. Tchaikovsky wrote his explanation of 
his fourth symphony for Madame von Meek, not 
for the public. We know that his impressive and 
baffling "Symphonie pathetique" had a pro- 
gram, but that is all we know. Beethoven un- 
questionably could have given titles in many cases 
where he refrained. The music of every great 
composer is certainly molded and colored by his 
conceptions of life, his joys, and his sorrows. To 
say that a composer keeps himself out of his music 
is to say that his music has no life. Chopin's 
"revolutionary 6tude" was surely not the only 
outburst of distress that his works contain. "My 
music," said Schubert, "is the outcome of my 
genius and my misery." Berlioz's extraordinary 
Memoirs may be read as an indirect commentary 
on his compositions. Wagner's "Tristan and 
Isolde" and Schumann's songs of the year 1840 
are the outburst of emotion excited by peculiar 
influences belonging to a distinct epoch in their 
lives. And so we might go on inferring revelations 
in unknown instances from the many that we know. 
In these mysteries lies much of the peculiar fas- 
cination of music. Within just and reasonable 
bounds we may accept them, and use them to 
enlarge our sympathies while our senses rejoice in 
the abstract beauty of sound. 

We must observe, however, that program 
music is not completely supplanting its sister in 


the household of art, as many critics seem to 
believe. Abstract music, so called, is not out of 
date, any more than music without words, as 
Wagner held, has accomplished all that is in it to 
do. A strong program tendency is indeed ap- 
parent, increasing perhaps, but as yet by no means 
dominant. Most of the symphonies of Tchai- 
kovsky, Dvorak, and others of the later school, all 
the symphonies of Brahms, are without titles or 
programs. The illustrative experiment has hardly 
touched the vast field of chamber music. Few 
of the numerous piano and violin concertos have 
definite subjects. Moreover, it does not yet ap- 
pear that the program symphony and the sym- 
phonic poem have greater achievements to show 
than the symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, and 
Brahms, the D minor and C major symphonies of 
Schumann, and the Fifth of Tchaikovsky; neither 
has illustrative piano music surpassed the creations 
of Chopin, whose designations of ballade, nocturne, 
etc., are not titles in the sense in which the student 
of program music uses the term. These and 
other great works of the abstract school may be in- 
terpreted indeed, but in terms of our own emo- 
tional consciousness, and this perhaps will com- 
mend them more strongly to our affections than 
those works which, by reason of their descriptive 
titles, involve an interest that is partly or wholly 
objective. In the long run those works of art will 
be most cherished which emanate spontaneously 
from th& inner spiritual life of the artist, as com- 


pared with those that are made in accordance with an 
influence that is purely external. The latter, how- 
ever masterly in invention and design, will often bear 
a more or less evident stamp of artificiality. We 
know that Beethoven's greatest works are the ex- 
pression of his own moods and spiritual struggles, 
and I am sure that they are more impressive on 
that account than if we knew that they were musi- 
cal reproductions of incidents in his own life or the 
attempted portrayal of scenes in history or fiction. 
After all it matters little, for in the last analysis 
music is in its essential nature universal and sub- 
jective. In its inability to describe events, in its 
unrivalled power to idealize, lies its glory. Let the 
partisans of the abstract and the program schools 
wrangle and exhort. Both are justified, both have 
their necessary place in the economy of art, and 
when we look below the surface we see that they 
have a common basis. We have only to accept the 
composer's evident intention as a guide to the 
appraisal of his work, and to measure every musi- 
cal production by the artistic principles which its 
special nature involves. After all, the different 
types of art reach very much the same purpose by 
different ways. One great law sustains them all. 
"Truth," says Professor Dowden, "is the means 
of art; its end is the quickening of the soul." 





How much should the amateur know of the his- 
tory of music and the lives of the composers he 
loves? Is it necessary that he should know any- 
thing? He does not need to be told that musical 
works are not solitary, that all attach themselves 
by a thousand invisible fibres to one another and to 
a world of thought and feeling from which their 
individual form and quality are drawn; but what 
signifies this to the one whom they momentarily 
address in theatre, church, or concert hall ? Noth- 
ing, perhaps, if the beautiful is merely the agree- 
able, if it has done its utmost when it has given us 
a few passing sensations of pleasure, shutting us 
off from all the constant fellowships of the reason 
and the understanding. At the moment of hearing 
music we are, undoubtedly, more conscious of the 
isolation than of the fellowships; mental concen- 
tration, as we have seen, is the condition of full 
appreciation; but the music lover I have in mind 
would not be satisfied if this absorption in purely 
personal sensations, delightful and essential as they 
are, were all that music had to offer him. Music, 


like all art, has, primarily, a social value. In the 
first place it establishes a bond of sympathy be- 
tween the individual hearer and his fellow worship- 
pers at the shrine of art. King Ludwig of Bavaria 
deceived himself when he imagined that those per- 
formances of his splendid opera company which he 
ordered for himself alone, gave him the highest 
degree of satisfaction that music can afford. And 
in the second place, when we survey music as a 
historic art, the product of an evolution due to 
known and fo unknown causes, as representative 
of certain world movements and as the expression 
of the soul life of its creators, men like unto our- 
selves who addressed themselves directly to us in 
their works, appealing for our sympathetic com- 
prehension — then a new order of gratifications is 
set up in our minds, the highest and best, I am 
ready to believe, that art can furnish. 

A work of art is not of any greater worth aestheti- 
cally because it marked a crisis in a composer's life 
or reflected a certain phase of culture or manners. 
But the fringe of associations, the human sugges- 
tions, that gather around it stir our imagination 
into very profitable activity as soon as our quest 
extends into the region they inhabit. Whatever 
affects the state of the mind in presence of a work 
of art enters, whether we are immediately aware 
of it or not, into our judgment of its personal worth. 
So far as a critic is conscious of the background, 
looks for the larger fact which gives to the work its 
existence and support and finds in it a human docu- 


ment, so far will it offer him a peculiar kind of in- 
terest which is unknown to him who studies it in 
isolation and detachment. If we can bring our- 
selves to believe that the value of art is a social value, 
then we shall use works of art as a medium of com- 
radeship between ourselves and the soul of their 
creator and the soul of their time. We speak of 
representative music as especially characteristic of 
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but in a very 
real sense all great music is representative. Not 
only the program music of our day, which strives 
to assume the prerogatives of poetry and painting, 
but even in the classic period, when art, to borrow 
the words of Vernon Lee, "exists for art's own 
sake, when men ask it only for the beautiful, when 
it stands in full independence' ' — this classic phase 
is also a product of evident conditions, and it means 
more to us if we go outside of it arid survey the 
social and artistic tendencies of its time. Moreover, 
when we say that a work of art appeals or should 
appeal to us completely severed from external con- 
ditions, just as it is in itself, we forget that the im- 
pression of a work of art is never simple, but always 
very complex. It is the result of many predisposi- 
tions perpared by a multitude of personal experi- 
ences and associations. A work of art cannot make 
identically the same effect upon any two persons, 
for the receiving faculty, depending as it does upon 
a complex train of habits and mental activities, can- 
not be precisely the same in both. The emotional 
response is largely conditioned by the kind and de- 


gree of individual expectation. If historic, social, 
and personal associations cluster around a musical 
composition the hearer's state of expectancy is very 
unlike that of another in whose mind this particular 
kind of atmosphere is lacking. There is more sat- 
isfaction to us if there seems a revelation of life in 
the music; if the man Beethoven or the man Schu- 
bert speaks to us in his works; if the elegant, witty, 
formal, eighteenth century finds a voice in the 
prim old harpsichord suites and Neapolitan arias; 
if the fervor of German piety and the dogmatic 
austerity of Lutheranism are heard in the cantatas 
of Sebastian Bach, and the passionate cry of 
modern pessimism and disenchantment is echoed 
in the bitter strains of Tchaikovsky. 

I am well aware that I have now entered upon 
debatable ground, and I must be very careful of 
my words lest my meaning be misunderstood and 
I seem to play fast and loose with established aes- 
thetic principles. Such analogies as I have adduced 
may easily be pushed too far. That way lies the 
sentimental " interpretation" of music which has 
justly aroused the scorn of clear thinkers. Protest 
against it has driven certain writers to the opposite 
extreme. Critics of the school of Hanslick and 
Gurney deny that the effect of music owes any- 
thing to historic or personal associations. "There 
is no indirect way," says Gurney, "in which music 
can make good that claim to our interest and at- 
tention which only its own beauty can enforce. 
. . . When we turn to the actual position of music 


in the present day, to the actual effect of those 
works which have any sort of true vitality, we shall 
find that the extraordinary power or popularity of 
the art is due to the isolation of its sphere, to the 
very fact that its roots have their place apart in our 
physical and spiritual nature, and know nothing 
of the interest or the disturbances of intellectual, 
social, or political life." Similarly, although much 
nearer to the real point, Matthew Arnold utters a 
warning against the fallacy that may arise in our 
judgments of poetry by applying the historic esti- 
mate. "By regarding a poet's work," he says, "as 
a stage in [a] course of development, we may easily 
bring ourselves to make it of more importance as 
poetry than in itself it really is." 

In these objections there is certainly much truth, 
and the study of the history of art will lead to many 
errors if it persuades us in any instance to substitute 
an archaeological or social or any kind of auxiliary 
value for the inherent aesthetic value. Arnold, 
however, goes on to add to his maxim a qualifica- 
tion which seems to me to touch the core of the 
issue. "The use of this negative [that is, historic 
or biographic] criticism is not in itself; it is entirely 
in its enabling us to have a clearer sense and a deeper 
enjoyment of what is truly excellent. To trace 
the labor, the attempts, the weaknesses, the failures 
of a genuine classic, to acquaint oneself with his 
time and his life and his historical relationships, 
is mere dilettantism unless it has that clear sense 
and deeper enjoyment for its end." 


The acceptance of this principle will clear away 
many doubts from the mind of the teacher of musi- 
cal appreciation who feels that the study of the art 
cannot wisely be severed from its historic and so- 
cial background. His business is with the intelli- 
gent application of the principle. He must cer- 
tainly bear in mind that the aesthetic values are 
primary, that a work is no more deserving of ad- 
miration because it is a link in a chain of develop- 
ment, that a dull piece of music is no less unprofit- 
able because it happens to have been produced in 
connection with a momentous revival of religion, 
that the world cares little for the joys and sorrows 
of a composer unless his music is in itself beautiful. 
But when it is beautiful the enjoyment of it seems 
somewhat more worthy and leaves a more perma- 
nent impress when it is reenforced by a conscious- 
ness of the human impulses from which it sprung. 
It is another thread that binds us to our kind. 
For Gurney's statement is not true that "music 
knows nothing of the disturbances of intellectual, 
social, or political life.'' Of political life perhaps 
not, but it is a very superficial view of music, par- 
ticularly nineteenth century music, which sees in its 
phenomena no correspondence with intellectual and 
social changes. The time will come when some 
scholar, equipped with sufficient learning and 
philosophic acumen, will exhibit modern art and 
literature floating on the great tide within which the 
thoughts, passions, and aspirations of the race are 
moving, and he will not exclude music from his 
2 39 


survey. We may concede to Gurney that these 
large considerations may have nothing to do with 
our instant enjoyment of a concert or opera when 
new and unfamiliar works are before us; yet when 
we deliberately study all the phenomena of music 
from every side we feel instinctively that music 
is something more than Hanslick's "sounding ara- 
besques," something more even than the embodi- 
ment of fugitive emotion detached from the current 
of life; that in it the soul of humanity finds a voice 
and expresses in its own mysterious way certain 
vital elements that help to compose the temper of 
its age. 

It seems to me that the statement made in a for- 
mer chapter in regard to the value to the hearer of 
the subject or program in representative music 
may be extended to explain — in a very general 
way — the significance to the music lover of the 
history of his art. As in representative music the 
ideas and feelings that the music endeavors to ex- 
press are conveyed to the hearer in advance and the 
mind is prepared to receive certain extra-musical 
impressions in addition to the pleasure of abstract 
sound, — so it may be said that the knowledge of 
historic relations in music gives an enlargement to 
our consciousness, and music which for the mo- 
ment may seem an all-sufficient fact remains in our 
thought as part of a greater fact. And because the 
problems of the past are the problems of the emo- 
tional life of all times, the student comes to per- 
ceive that in the history of the art he loves there is 


to be found evidence of experiences akin to his own, 
and he is helped to realize that in his musical joys 
he is one of a vast congregation, bound to multitudes 
in many lands and ages by one of the most tenacious 
of those sympathies that evince a common nature 
among the races of men. 

These principles are almost self-evident in the 
case of the more definitely expressive of the arts, such 
as poetry and painting. They are not self-evident 
in music; in fact they are so recondite, so impossi- 
ble to demonstrate in detail, so difficult to formu- 
late in words, that it is not strange that some deny 
their validity altogether. But music comes from 
so deep a source, it is so universal, it has undergone 
so many changes under external as well as internal 
conditions, that it would be simply evading a diffi- 
culty to deny that it is also in the broad sense a 
representative art. In applying the canons of his- 
toric interpretation to music we must only be 
watchful to maintain proper reserve. 

Art history is the re-creation of the world around 
the artist. It tells us whence he drew his forms, 
his styles, his methods, and the special tendency of 
his genius in its practical activity. It helps us to 
explain works by showing how they came to be, 
the influences that stirred and molded them. 
The prime impulse, certainly, is the artist's genius, 
and that we cannot fathom. But, as Emerson 
said, "the greatest genius is the most indebted 
man." His works are largely the product of his 
environment, which includes his early educational 


influences. Chopin before the full development of 
the piano would not have been the Chopin we 
cherish now; Sebastian Bach, taken in childhood 
to Italy and brought up among the artistic, religious, 
and social conditions there prevailing, would have 
become — we know not what. Art history shows 
the influence of race, of family, of education, of 
external circumstances favorable and unfavorable, 
of patronage, of prevailing contemporary ideas. 
It enables us to understand the condition of public 
taste and the special demands which institutions, 
locality, etc., laid upon the composer's work. It 
tells us also how the artist was constrained by the 
degree of technical development which his art had 
attained, by the nature of the materials he was 
forced to use. Art is the expression of emotion in 
some medium appealing to the senses. The com- 
prehension of any art requires a recognition of 
the necessities imposed by the medium, — as for 
example the state of the language in comparing 
Chaucer with Shakespeare and Tennyson, the in- 
ferior knowledge of pigments, drawing, composi- 
tion, and perspective possessed by the earlier Italian 
painters as compared with the later. 

Guided by this principle the student of music sees 
that he must not expect to find in Beethoven's sym- 
phonies the orchestration of Wagner, nor the har- 
mony of Elgar and Franck in the oratorios of Han- 
del. Thus enlightened — and here is the gist of the 
whole matter — he is thrown back and his attention'^/ 
concentrated upon the elements of power that ar^/\ 


actually present in Handel and Beethoven. In no 
other art does the technical attainment of the period 
exert so compelling an influence upon the style as 
it does in music. Making the proper allowance for 
this, and also for the action of race, epoch, common 
ideals, and social conditions, the student who has 
developed the historic sense is able to employ the 
standards of judgment that are applicable to each 
composer and school. He learns what to look for, 
and especially what he has no right to look for. 
If historic study had no other result than this it 
would be more than justified, for it has seemed to 
me that there is no more frequent cause of non- 
appreciation and false judgment than this of de- 
manding in musical works, especially those of the 
older masters, qualities which in the nature of the 
case they cannot possess. The great secret of criti- 
cal justice is in the ability to measure works by the 
standards that are applicable to them. When this 
habit is formed the student is prepared to take the 
proper point of view. He escapes the errors that 
arise from faulty perspective. Getting into the 
artist's world the observer becomes as one of his 
contemporaries. He attains that prime condition 
of true critical judgment and rational enjoyment of 
art, which is — sympathy. 

It must still be kept in mind that aesthetic values 
are distinct from historic values, and it is quite con- 
ceivable that a passion for historic investigation or 
textual criticism may exclude the spontaneous un- 
reasoning delight in beautiful things, such as an 


impulsive school girl finds in Chopin or Grieg. I 
certainly am not one of those who would exchange 
the rapture of a Wordsworth or a Whitman in the 
presence of nature for that of a geologist over the 
unexpected discovery of glacial scratches. But 
still there is a point where aesthetic values and his- 
toric interests may meet and sustain one another. 
The question of the effect produced by a work of 
art is only partially a question of the work in and 
of itself — it is even more a question of the mental 
attitude of the beholder or hearer. Every mental 
experience is the result of all the mental experiences 
that have gone before; it is the latest term of a 
series. The immediate impression of a piece of 
music is certainly an aesthetic one, not scientific, — 
emotional, not intellectual. Nevertheless the 
aesthetic impression, which seems at the time so 
simple and immediate, is really a bewildering com- 
pound made up of a mingling of all past percep- 
tions and appreciations and habits. The study of 
the history of music is one of the formative in- 
fluences which unconsciously sway the receptive 
sensibility. It is a liberalizing process; it makes 
the mind hospitable to a multitude of considerations 
which assist the proper estimate of works of various 
schools. It gives the mind that flexibility which 
enables it to shift its ground and take a station 
from which the work may be seen clear of in- 
tervening prejudices. The preliminary discipline 
seems to lend the needed warrant to the accuracy of 
the aesthetic emotion; it is a partial guarantee 


against self-deception. For the best results of 
knowledge come when we are unconscious of it 
as a mere process of intellectual acquisition, and it 
has become a part of feeling. Knowledge ceases 
to be reflective and abstract only when it has be- 
come resolved into immediate insight and direct ex- 

There is no study connected with art in which " a 
saving grace of common sense' * is more required 
than the-history of music. When the culture of an 
amateur is involved, and not the research of a spe- 
cial investigator, it seems plain that only those fields 
of history need to be considered that bear some rela- 
tion to his own situation and needs as an amateur. 
And yet even here an enthusiastic music lover will 
wish to avoid a too narrow restriction. The breadth 
of vision that comes from wide excursions will af- 
fect, although indirectly, every musical experience. 
Nevertheless certain schools and periods are far 
more important to him than others. The music 
lover is not called upon to exchange aesthetic 
pleasure for the entertainment of curiosity and 
speculation. I am ready to agree with Mr. W. 
C. Brownell that to a man thoroughly alive his 
own period is more important than any other. 
But this does not mean that w r orks produced in his 
own period are necessarily and always more service- 
able to him than those of the past. It is not a 
matter of date but of actual living power. The 
" Well- tempered Clavichord" is more to us of the 
twentieth century than, let us say, the piano works 


of Brahms. It is not that the " Well-tempered 
Clavichord" was a great work for its time, but that 
it is a great work now. In the productions of the 
older time there is more reserve, less lavishness in 
color, less agitation of surface than in those of the 
late romantic epoch, but in their reflection of the 
moods which are the inheritance of all the genera- 
tions they have no date, but are contemporary with 
the latest expression of genuine human emotion. 
The old boundary lines which were made artificially 
to separate successive periods from one another 
have been removed; the men of old time are our 
ancestors not merely in the flesh, but also in men- 
tal and moral habit; while modes of expression 
change, fundamental feelings which issue in liter- 
ary and artistic forms remain essentially the same. 
The difference is one of varying emphasis upon 
this or that phase of experience, this or that view 
of the universe with the resulting reactions, also a 
difference in the means available for expression, — 
but there is no emotional state, no consequent mode 
of utterance from the rudest to the most refined 
that cannot be accepted, either in reality or imagi- 
natively, as our own. We are in touch at every 
moment with the heart of all mankind. In the 
words of the ancient poet, nothing that is really 
human is foreign to us. Every artist and thinker 
who had a sincere message for his own age has 
also a message for the present and the future. 

If a student of the history of music enjoys the 
services of a teacher a word of admonition to that 


teacher may not be out of place. He must have con- 
victions and preferences; — if he is not extremely 
wise and honest he will mistake prejudices for con- 
victions and magnify his predilections into general 
laws. There is safety in placing one's chief reli- 
ance on works and composers that have survived 
the storms of controversy and stand before the 
world's regard in the calmness of assured victory. 
There is no essential difference of opinion among 
intelligent people in respect to the organ and 
clavier works of Sebastian Bach, the sympho- 
nies of Beethoven, the songs of Schubert, and 
the piano works of Chopin. Many other com- 
posers are eminent for specific unmistakable quali- 
ties, and there is no difficulty in distinguishing the 
salient beauties of recognized masterpieces. In 
cases where there are honest differences of opinion 
among equally competent authorities the teacher 
should be liberal enough to refrain from attempt- 
ing to enforce his own views and disparaging the op- 
posite. He may, for example, greatly admire Men- 
delssohn, at the same time being willing to admit 
that many good judges deny to Mendelssohn a 
place in the first rank of composers. The teacher's 
only honest course in such a case is to give the rea- 
sons for praise and dispraise that are advanced 
from both sides, and help his pupils to weigh opin- 
ions in the face of representative works and to 
form conclusions for themselves. I do not need 
to enlarge upon the value of this discipline in the 
formation of character. For character is rather 


to be chosen than much learning, and a flexible, 
catholic, wide open mind is the best result of 
the study of the history of music or any other 

Besides the temptation to dogmatic assertion there 
is another danger into which the freedom and irre- 
sponsibility of a lecturer's position are prone to 
lead him, and that is the natural tendency to lay 
undue emphasis upon subjects in which he himself 
is especially interested. He may be engaged in re- 
searches in some abstruse department of history, 
such as mediaeval notation or the development of 
musical instruments. He may have some favorite 
composer upon whom he loves to dilate. His tem- 
perament may incline him to linger in some single 
attractive field, such as church music or the folk 
song. It is hard for him to restrain his enthusiasm 
before his class, and he will need to check his in- 
clination to place his own sympathies above his 
pupils' needs. It is proper enough that a teacher 
of art should have his hobbies, but he must learn 
to curb them in the lecture room. He must never 
lose sight of proportions; he must not forget that 
the functions of the special investigator and those 
of a lecturer to ingenuous seekers after truth are 
distinct. The safeguard is in a broad and systema- 
tized plan, calculated in advance and maintained 
with unflinching determination, for the teacher who 
simply follows the lure of each day's suggestion will 
often find at the end that he has wasted time in 
agreeable side excursions, while the view of the 


subject which his class has acquired remains frag- 
mentary, disproportioned, and obscure. 

In the critical study of art there are three groups 
of materials, viz., the actual works of art, contem- 
porary records bearing upon them and the condi- 
tions that produced them, and the commentaries of 
critical scholars. The first-hand scrutiny of musi- 
cal compositions is the alpha and the omega of the 
student's task. It should be the effort of every 
teacher pi musical history to bring before his pu- 
pils as many of the representative works of the 
masters as possible, and to set them to studying these 
works on both the structural and the expressional 
sides. This seems as commonplace a remark as 
any lover of platitudes could desire; but it is by no 
means superfluous, for I have found, after long and 
sometimes irritating experience, that the majority 
of students are more inclined to read about works 
of musical art in histories and critical essays than 
to make direct attack upon the works themselves. 
The reason for this, I think, is partly indolence, 
partly a modest distrust of their own critical judg- 
ment when it comes to giving definite reasons. It 
is one of the many aspects of that trait in human 
nature which prefers submission to authority in 
place of the independent exercise of the reason. 
Here is, perhaps, the noblest opportunity of the 
teacher in helping his pupils to acquire the investi- 
gating spirit and to gain confidence in their own 

There are, of course, many periods and schools 



whose production it is not possible for the pupil 
personally to examine. The seventeenth century, 
for instance, will always be more or less of a terra 
incognita, which the average student can see only 
through the eyes of men like Sir Hubert Parry who 
have boldly explored its devious ways. Few of 
the vast multitudes of the church compositions of 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are accessi- 
ble. Even in the case of the available works of 
the nineteenth century composers, the money cost, 
especially of operas and orchestral scores, is a for- 
midable obstacle. In respect to the majority of 
works and schools, teachers and pupils alike must 
depend upon the reports of special investigators. 
And even in the cases of composers whose produc- 
tions can be known to the student at first hand, he 
must not go to the extreme of personal independence 
and neglect the commentaries that have been written 
by men of learning and discernment. These com- 
mentaries will not merely give information, they 
will suggest and stimulate, they will prevent or 
correct false interpretations and narrow views. It 
follows that the instructor must know what are the 
best books in the various departments of his sub- 
ject, he must be able to perceive the difference be- 
tween a philosophic treatment of a theme and one 
that is scrappy and superficial. He must know 
how to make allowance for the personal equation 
and estimate the critic's competence in view of his 
temperament, education, and aesthetic principles. 
With all due recognition of the usefulness of books, 


the teacher must, however, keep his pupils as far 
as possible face to face with actual living works. 
He must encourage them to inquire and explore so 
far as their means extend, employing the opinions 
of others only as provocation and guidance in the 
formation of their own. For this point must ever 
be made emphatic, — the study of the history of 
music is not merely for the purpose of accumulating 
facts, but far more for discovering the meaning and 
uses of facts and training the critical faculty. And 
the desired end is found not in the instant results 
alone, but in the acquisition of a correct method, 
the preparation of the ground for study and achieve- 
ment in the future. No matter how short a dis- 
tance the teacher may have gone in his own origi- 
nal research, he must know what are the accepted 
methods of historical investigation, so that by and 
by his pupils may be able to get along without him. 
This should always be the teacher's aim, — to 
show his pupils how to walk safely when they are 
obliged to walk alone. 

A host of questions will arise to tax the teacher's 
wisdom, but the art of arts in lecturing, as in read- 
ing, is that of skipping. There is no more danger 
of over-scantiness than there is of over-fulness. 
The teacher who is loaded with his subject will 
often revel in details, forgetting the wise saying of 
Voltaire that the secret of being a bore is to tell 
everything. In economy of material, in selection, 
adjustment, and balance, so that nothing essential 
is omitted and nothing superfluous introduced, the 


teacher may himself exhibit some of the shining 
qualities of an artist. He will do well to contrive 
his own scheme and not indolently adopt that of 
another. He may think best to study with his 
class the chief composers in chronological order. 
In that case he will state in terse form the distin- 
guishing traits of each master, with the illustration 
of a few works in which these traits are especially 
apparent. He may, however, prefer to trace the 
development of the principal forms, such as the 
symphony, opera, song, piano music, church mu- 
sic. Whatever the system, the larger attention 
should be given to the forms and composers that 
touch most closely the pupil's life and needs. In 
American schools, for example, the history of piano 
music, the song, orchestral music, church music, and 
the oratorio should have much more time than the 
history of the opera. This does not mean that the 
opera should be neglected, for since an important 
motive of a history course is the preparation for 
the musical experiences of the student's future, the 
whole theory of the opera should be considered, 
and a general acquaintance formed with the sub- 
jects and salient characteristics of those lyric 
dramas that have gained a secure place in the 
world's regard. But in the wisest division of time 
that which is most representative at the present 
day should have preference over that which has 
merely a historic or local interest. 

Those who have a decided leaning toward any 
single department of musical art will naturally 


wish to become familiar with the history of their 
specialty, and this preference may well be en- 
couraged. The pianist should be at home in the 
annals of his instrument and its music, the singer 
familiar with the history of the song, the organist 
and choir leader with the ideal and development 
of church music and its relation to the various 
modes of religious worship. Yet no phase of music 
can be isolated; for of all the separate departments 
of musical art is it true, as Emerson sings of the 
factors in human society: 

"All are needed by each one; 
Nothing is fair or good alone." 

To rise to the highest view of our theme, neither 
does the whole history of music stand alone. Music 
can never be separated from the larger life of the 
world. The fascination of the study of its history 
lies in its relation to the whole course of civilization, 
for although it is, so far as definite expression is 
concerned, the most remote of the arts from the 
ordinary phenomenal life, it is at the same time, 
as Lotze declares, the most social of the arts, and 
its constant striving after new forms and adapta- 
tions is the reflection of tendencies in society which 
reveal themselves also in arts, philosophies, man- 
ners, and institutions. Nothing is more observable 
in the recent progress of music than its intimate 
connection with literature, as shown in the opera, 
cantata, and program music of the nineteenth cen- 


tury. The different styles of church music are the 
outgrowth of necessities in the creeds, traditions, dis- 
ciplines, and ceremonies of the great ecclesiastical 
orders. The national movements in those countries 
which have but recently entered the current of 
musical progress, such as Russia, Bohemia, Nor- 
way, and Finland, are to be interpreted only as we 
refer them back to still deeper stirrings of the popu- 
lar self-consciousness. To sound these depths of 
musical suggestion would require an abundance of 
knowledge and a capacity for philosophic general- 
ization that can hardly be expected of a musical 
scholar. It is enough to say that these relation- 
ships exist, and that the recognition of them, even 
afar off, is a mighty kindler of enthusiasm. No 
breadth of culture, no acquaintance with lan- 
guages, literature, art, and history is superfluous to 
the one who wishes to solve the meaning of music 
and interpret its message to the ages. A lifetime 
is far too short to compass the circuit of its rela- 
tions. The magnitude and difficulty of such studies 
should be to every student not a discouragement 
but an inspiration. 

In studying the history of music we learn to 
merge our scanty personal experience in the ex- 
perience of the race. We acquire the open mind, 
the liberal judgment. We forsake prejudices and 
observe art works in their universal aspects. Crit- 
ics of the scientific order tell us that we must 
repress personal predilections and apply to works 
of art standards that are established by the con- 


sent of the best minds. This is practicable only so 
far as we are able to make the judgments of the 
best minds sincerely our own because our reason 
assents to them, for an opinion accepted merely 
on the authority of a name can never coerce us 
much after we have forgotten its terms. Every es- 
timate, to be worth anything, must be a personal 
estimate. It follows, therefore, that it is our duty 
to make this estimate comprehensive and just, so 
far as it lies in our power. In this adjustment of 
the receiving mind to the work in hand we accept 
the aid of history, — not only the history of forms 
and productions, but also the history of taste. In 
the sifting process of public opinion we find the 
only really trustworthy test of artistic value, for by 
this we discover whether a work has in itself a corre- 
spondence with genuine human need. Great works 
appear greater and small works appear smaller 
when brought before the tribunal of history. 

Deference to the verdicts of history, however, 
does not annul the student's right of private judg- 
ment. "The salt of all aesthetic inquiry/ ' says 
Walter Pater, "is what, precisely what, is this to 
tne" It makes a vast difference, however, what 
there is in this me, what faculty of response to that 
which is strongest and finest and most human in 
art. There is little value in any culture of the in- 
tellect that is kept apart from sympathetic contact 
with the great heart of the world. When the mind 
has become expanded by the entrance of the large 
human sympathies, the reactions in the face of par- 


ticular works and groups of works will be different 
from those that are felt when there is no conscious- 
ness of art's permanent social relations. Through 
the sympathetic action of his art the student is able 
to enter into the spiritual life of his fellow-men, and 
to feel that he is at one with them in some of the 
nobler interests of the soul. The ultimate purpose 
of the study of the history of music is to increase 
musical appreciation in the deeper sense of the 
term, to enrich the inner life by making it receptive 
to all those quickening influences which music in 
its evolution through the centuries has gained the 
power to exert. 

Besides the historic background which imparts 
the social interest to groups of works and schools 
of composition, there is often to be found a closer 
and more intimate revelation where a work pos- 
sesses a quality which can plainly be interpreted as 
a communication of the composer's self — his tem- 
perament, experience, and attitude toward life. 
Through a vast amount of music, especially that 
of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, runs 
what may be called a lyric quality, — behind the 
work we discover the man. Not the man merely as 
musician, as master of musical science, or inventor 
of themes and forms, but the man like ourselves, 
who might have expressed himself in literary terms 
if his talent had led him that way. These personal 
deliverances cannot be directly demonstrated to be 
such; the composer is no doubt often unconscious 


that he is uncovering his heart; yet the message 
seems plainly lurking in the depths of his tones. 
As the yearning, tormented soul of Michelangelo 
is unveiled in the grandiose forms, the speaking 
countenances, and the strained attitudes of the sub- 
lime figures in the Medici chapel and the prophets 
and sibyls of the Sistine, just as the insatiable cu- 
riosity concerning life and the sympathetic love for 
all mankind are seen in the portraits and religious 
pictures of Rembrandt, so in the masterpieces of 
modern music a human heart may be found beat- V/ 
ing amid their melodies and harmonies, and we\/> 
greet not merely the clever fabricator of tone struct- 
ures but a living, striving, suffering companion. 
I am quite sure that, in the last analysis, this recog- 
nition of fellowship with great characters is the 
deepest source of pleasure, as it is the most salutary 
result, in the study of art. The intense desire that 
every lover of music has to know more about the 
great composers as men, through their biographies, 
letters, conversations, anecdotes, and the testimony 
of their acquaintances, is associated with a belief 
that their music contains more or less of the ele- 
ments of a confession. 

We find, to be sure, a school of artists and critics 
who repudiate any concern with the subjective ele- 
ment in literary, plastic, or musical works. The au- 
thor may be morally good or bad, they maintain, 
optimist or pessimist or anything you please, it is of 
no consequence; it is the work and our psychical re- 
actions that are important to us, not the author. 


Flaubert, proclaiming the most extreme principles of 
realism, exclaimed: "The man [that is, the author] 
is nothing, th work is everything," and apparently 
convinced himself that in his own novels nothing 
of himself is to be found. "But is it possible," 
asks Bourget, "that a work can possess an exist- 
ence in itself and different from the mind that pro- 
duced it? Does not a creation of an artist — pict- 
ure or statue, poem or romance, piece of music or 
of architecture — have for its first condition that 
of being the transparence of a sensibility, the reve- 
lation, direct or symbolic, of a certain soul?" It is 
unquestionable that the composer conceals himself 
in his music far more completely than the lyric poet 
is able to do, but even his art is not a complete dis- 
guise — there will be something in his melodies and 
harmonies that betrays him. Is not the soul of 
the music really the soul of the man? Does it not 
help us in studying Beethoven to know something 
of him as he knew himself? Do we not find in 
many of his letters an almost painful effort to im- 
part something which comes to fuller utterance in 
his music ? Are we not more powerfully affected by 
that music, are we not more likely to feel human 
sympathy as well as aesthetic pleasure, if we have 
learned something of the composer's joys and sor- 
rows, his spiritual struggles and victories? Would 
his music make the same appeal to our descendants 
as it does to us if every record of his life were to be 
blotted out, if they could know nothing of his per- 
sonal traits or the conditions under which his works 


were produced, the affliction of his deafness and 
his beloved nephew's ingratitude, his solitude, his 
friendships, his proud independence, his boisterous 
humor, his unsteady temper, the strange mingling 
of coarse manners with tenderness as sweet as that 
of a woman, his vague religious yearnings, his love 
of nature, his democratic principles, his lofty ideals, 
his passionate devotion to his art, his unwearied 
quest of perfection? Sir George Grove raises the 
question if a certain superficiality in Mendelssohn's 
work may not be due to his unfailing good fortune 
and habitual high spirits. Was Schubert correct in 
saying that his best music was the product of his 
misery as well as of his genius? The question of 
the precise nature of the relation between a com- 
poser's music and his life and character is a baffling 
one, and an eagerness to look everywhere for ex- 
act correspondences leads to that sentimentalism 
which, as in the study of the history of music, we 
must carefully avoid. In a multitude of instances 
such direct connection cannot be discovered — as 
for e ample between Beethoven's joyous Second 
Symphony and the doleful "will" of about the same 
date, — yet it is certain that a man's outward acts 
and displays of temperament proceed from inner 
causes that are just as mysterious to us as the act 
of artistic creation, and to say that there is no re- 
lation between the emotional life as shown in works 
of beauty and the emotional life as shown in those 
outward signs by which men interpret the inner 
life, would be to assert that music stands isolated 


from the other arts, falsely called its sisters, and is 
merely a formal play of pleasant sounds, as super- 
ficial, as meaningless as its detractors have ever 

While we must be on our guard against carrying 
our curiosity concerning a musician's life into ir- 
relevant gossip, we are more than justified when 
we seek to draw from the records everything that 
may help us to understand the man as he really 
was. The most illuminating aids to this sympa- 
thetic comprehension will be found in the letters 
of composers, especially in the correspondence of 
men like Schumann, Wagner, Liszt, and Tchai- 
kovsky, who had both a love of introspection and 
a gift of literary expression. Nothing is more 
striking in the annals of recent music thrj. the in- 
tense desire on the part of these representative 
musicians, and of many others in less degree, to 
expose to friendly scrutiny their mpst cherished 
convictions and desires. To the art critic these 
documents are indispensable, for they abound 
in the most instructive discussions upon practical 
and theoretical musical questions, besides throw- 
ing light upon the author's own intentions in his 
creative work. In some of these writings artistic 
affairs are uppermost, in others personal, domestic, 
or social concerns predominate. In Wagner's let- 
ters both the artist and the man in every conceiva- 
ble relation are revealed with an unexampled abun- 
dance and minuteness. As volume after volume of 
his letters issues from the press we almost wonder 


how he found time for any other occupation. But 
these letters and his theoretical books and pamphlets 
are to a large extent explanatory of his dramas — 
and these dramas, as he distinctly tells us, are always 
the embodiment of his opinions and his longings, 
the one passion of his life not being fame or wealth 
but to be understood. The fascinating enigma 
of Tchaikovsky's character almost ceases to be an 
enigma as we read his letters to Madame von Meek; 
a very essential element in the biography of this per- 
turbed spirit is to be seen, for example, in his ex- 
planation to her of the meaning of his Fourth sym- 
phony. No one can mistake the direct relation- 
ship between the letters of these musicians I have 
mentioned and their compositions; their tastes, 
aims, and temperaments are found in both modes 
of expression. In Tchaikovsky's Fourth and Sixth 
symphonies we recognize the same swift alternation 
of moods, the brooding melancholy, the fierce re- 
volt, the weakness of will, the unstable compound 
that results from the mingling of ungoverned im- 
pulse (so common in the Slav) with western cul- 
ture that we observe in the records of his life. 
Liszt's joyous bonhomie, cosmopolitan sympathies, 
overflowing vitality, and exuberant enjoyment of 
whatever is romantic, picturesque, and splendid are 
evident in his compositions and in his delightful 
Travel Letters of a Bachelor of Music. No less do 
Schumann's taste for the more inward and senti- 
mental phases of literary romanticism and his 
love of simple domestic pleasures find expression 


in his correspondence, his essays, his piano pieces, 
and his songs. 

This intimate relation between art and personal 
life, and this propensity to supplement musical 
production with definite explanations, is becoming 
more and more characteristic of the present age. 
The offices of composer and expounder are fre- 
quently united; the world wants the composer's 
opinions of his own work and of the work of others; 
the musician has become a man of affairs, and his 
relation to the public is far more direct and inti- 
mate than of old. He comes more than half way 
to meet his patrons, and takes every pains to be 
understood by them. The composer of the nine- 
teenth century is not only nearer to us in time than 
his forerunner of the eighteenth, but he is nearer in 
the eager approach of his heart, in his almost pa- 
thetic appeal for comprehension. In this self-rev- 
elatory character of his work he is as strictly a child 
of his age as the contemporary painter, poet, or 
romancer. The period of abstraction in music was 
past when Beethoven employed the standard forms 
as channels through which he poured the burn- 
ing stream of his own passionate self-consciousness. 
Music has ever since, in spite of partial reversions 
in such men as Mendelssohn and Brahms, been 
intensely individual, a cry of the man as well as of 
the age. It is music with a purpose. The public 
is well aware of this, it loves more and more to dis- 
cover personality in art creations, and hence the 
demand for musical biographies, reminiscences, 


diaries, and letters expands from day to day. In 
this attraction to the spiritual adventures of its 
heroes the public seems to confirm the assertion of 
Richard Wagner that "the severance of the artist 
from the man is as brainless an attempt as the di- 
vorce of soul from body"; and that "never was 
an artist loved nor his art comprehended unless 
he was also loved — at least unwittingly — as man, 
and with his art his life was also understood." 

There is little danger, I think, that the music 
lover will fail to make the necessary discrimina- 
tions in this department of musical interpretation. 
Not in every composer, by any means, do we find 
this direct and self-revealing individualism. Among 
artists we find two classes, viz., the subjective and 
the objective. In poetry, Goethe, who tells us 
that all his poems were occasional poems called 
forth by real circumstances, that all he published 
were "fragments of a long confession," is the type 
of the subjective artist; Schiller, who went outside 
of himself for his material and built up his pieces in 
deliberate workman-like fashion, with cool, system- 
atic regard to proper form and technique, is the type 
of the objective artist. The same antithesis we find 
in painting between Da Vinci or Rembrandt and 
Raphael. Wagner is preeminently an example 
of the subjective musician; his dramas are as much 
a part of the author's self as are the poems of Shel- 
ley and Byron. The eighteenth century opera com- 
posers before Mozart and Gluck are purely ob- 
jective; their works were produced to order and 


according to contract, their subjects were wholly 
conventional, their music constructed in accordance 
with rule and tradition. The personal interest in 
their work is nil, and nothing that we know of their 
history or character is of any value to us in the ap- 
preciation of their work. This is almost enough 
in itself to account for the oblivion into which these 
operas have fallen. Opera, like the spoken drama, 
is indeed essentially an objective art, for the au- 
thor's purpose is to reflect nature as he sees it around 
him, not as it is in his own inner brooding. Never- 
theless the modern opera, like the spoken play, is 
becoming more subjective, and the Strausses and 
the Debussys of our time are no more anxious than 
our Ibsens and Maeterlincks to keep themselves 
altogether out of their work. 

With the composers of abstract instrumental mu- 
sic the problem is not so easy. It is more a matter 
of intuition than direct perception when we find 
the man behind the music. Nevertheless nothing 
can be more plain than that such men as Schumann, 
Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and MacDowell, per- 
haps, indeed, most of the leaders of nineteenth cen- 
tury music, wrote not because they chose, but be- 
cause they must, that they had that within them 
which forced its way out, a burden upon their 
souls that gave them no peace until it was dis- 
charged. They were not journeymen under em- 
ploy, like so many musicians of the preceding cen- 
turies, but free independent spirits who spoke not 
to order, or in conformity, but as their own separate 


irrepressible genius bade them speak. The state- 
ment of Wagner, quoted above, must not be taken 
to apply to all composers but only to those of the 
self-conscious order to which he himself belonged; 
but the application can be made to the greater num- 
ber of the masters whom we most love, and it will be 
found, I think, that the music that touches us most 
deeply and which we retain in our memories is the 
music in which the lyric element is most apparent. 
One practical suggestion is necessary here. In 
employing this somewhat hazardous method of in- 
terpretation which I have advised, the student must 
take note of the stage in a composer's development 
to which any given composition belongs. Every 
composer of note has to pass through a season of 
formalism, when he is learning how to use his tools, 
getting together the material for self-expression. 
In this early period he will be more or less under 
bondage to his predecessors, and in absorbing their 
work he will, in spite of himself, model his own pro- 
duction after their manner. There is nothing of 
the mature Wagner in "Rienzi"; there is much of 
the contemporary Vienna school in the first trios 
and sonatas of Beethoven; there is little individ- 
uality in the early symphonies of Schubert; Verdi 
did not find himself until he was past fifty. Marked 
originality sometimes appears almost at the out- 
set, as in Schubert's songs and Schumann's piano 
pieces, but even with these composers the law 
will be found to hold good in other forms which 
they cultivated. Wagner, in his Communication to 


My Friends, makes the very profound observation 
that every artist of real importance is made what 
he is under the direction of two orders of impres- 
sions, viz., artistic impressions (meaning thereby his 
lessons from the technical study of his art and the 
influence of other composers) and impressions of 
life. The student of music who wishes to get to 
the heart of the works of his favorite masters will 
take both these orders of impressions into account. 
In the first period of a composer's life the artistic 
impressions will usually be the strongest, but as he 
grows older he will come more and more under the 
sway of spiritual forces and they will gradually 
give a more personal color to his work. 

It follows from what has been said that in study- 
ing and teaching the history of music, biography 
must not be kept apart from the development of 
form ana technique. Better too much of it than 
too little. Keep the personal human element in the 
foreground* The understanding of every com- 
poser's work involves the question of how it came 
to be, and we must go wide and deep in our search 
for causes. 





The good of all ages who have been imbued with a passion 
for righteousness, have never hesitated to spend themselves 
generously for the cause they loved, the advancement of good- 
ness; nor should those who care for what is beautiful ever 
hesitate to give themselves as liberally to make beauty prevail 
in the world. — Bliss Carman, The Poetry of Life. 

In the foregoing pages I have endeavored to show 
the amateur, who begins with no knowledge of 
musical theory, some of the principles of musical 
design and expression. I have tried to correct the 
common opinion that nothing is needed in the cult- 
ure of the listener except frequent association with 
beautiful works and the frank surrender to imme- 
diate impressions. I trust also that I have suc- 
ceeded in demonstrating that a knowledge that will 
immensely increase the permanent benefits to be 
derived from music can be obtained by any one who 
is ignorant of musical science, by following methods 
which are applied, mutatis mutandis, to the study 
of the arts of design. 

There still remains a doubt in the minds of many 
earnest people, who will refuse to entertain the 
claims of art unless they can see that it makes a 


positive contribution to moral and intellectual prog- 
ress. What has it to do with conduct? they will 
ask. How does it help one to meet the practical 
issues of every day? Does it give steadfastness to 
one's higher purposes? Are the hours which its 
votaries dedicate to it a preparation for faithful ser- 
vice in the world, or are they an indulgence which 
tends to weaken the will and promote a selfish 
indifference to the prosaic commonplace interests 
upon which, nevertheless, the health of the com- 
munity depends ? Is not the passion for art, when 
given free scope, mentally and morally injurious, or 
at best ethically neutral, because it tempts one by 
visions of exquisite delight away from the active 
duties and the larger sympathies ? 

These questions, which are constantly raised an 
respect to art and to aesthetic culture, seem at first 
sight to apply more directly to music than to the 
representative arts and literature. The latter are 
more closely connected with constant life and with 
mental and moral ideas. They bring life and its 
permanent activities directly before us. We can- 
not resist the thought that they are designed to 
instruct as well as to give pleasure, to bring the 
consciousness into contact with physical or mental 
energies as well as to make the sensibilities more 
delicate. They unite the world of outer experience 
directly with the inner world of emotion. A large 
acquaintance with life, therefore, seems necessary 
for their full appreciation. 

Music, on the other hand, remains enclosed in 


a palace of its own creation, which seems almost 
like a prison so excluded is it from the world of 
change and conflict. It is in the world, but appar- 
ently not of it. It seems at times little more than 
a fair illusion; to us, as to Jean Paul Richter, it 
tells of that which we have not seen and shall not 
see. When Matthew Arnold proclaims his famous 
dictum that poetry is at bottom a criticism of life 
— the application of ideas to life — even if we re 
fuse to accept it as a complete statement, we con- 
fess that it contains a large measure of truth. If 
he had also applied the same test to painting and 
sculpture we should not reject it utterly. But no 
one, I think, would assert that music is a criticism 
of life — the application of ideas to life. Arnold's 
further claim that "the substance and matter of 
the best poetry acquire their special character from 
possessing, in an eminent degree, truth and seri- 
ousness," would again not be wholly inapplicable 
to the other representative arts, but could hardly 
be made for music. Seriousness, yes; but to speak 
of truth in connection with music would be to use 
a term without meaning unless we apply to music 
Keats's declaration, questionable elsewhere, that 
"beauty is truth, truth beauty." It is, therefore, 
hardly a cause for surprise that philosophers and 
moralists often look with suspicion upon the fasci- 
nations of music, and would restrict musical in- 
dulgence on intellectual and ethical grounds, or 
else would insist that some practical counter inter- 
est should be at hand to neutralize the spell 


which the enticing goddess of sound throws over 
her adorers. William James has thus solemnly 
spoken from his professorial pulpit: "The habit 
of excessive indulgence in music, for those who 
are neither performers themselves nor musically 
gifted enough to take it in a purely intellectual 
way, has probably a relaxing effect upon the char- 
acter. One becomes filled with emotions which 
habitually pass without prompting to any deed, and 
so the inertly sentimental condition is kept up. 
The remedy would be never to suffer one's self to 
have an emotion at a concert without expressing it 
afterward in some active way. Let the expression 
be the least thing in the world — speaking genially 
to one's aunt, or giving up one's seat in a street car, 
if nothing more heroic offers — but let it not fail 
to take place." 

Professor Vida Scudder assumes a still more 
austere mien as she brings this sweeping charge: 
" There is a class to whom the stimulus offered by 
music is on the whole a demoralizing influence. 
In their quiet and well ordered existence, where the 
sensational must be found not in external events, 
but in subjective experience, the thirst for a subtle 
form of emotional excitement becomes the domi- 
nant motive of life. If the end of life be purpose- 
ful activity and the function of emotion be simply 
to stimulate to action — then it must be seen that 
among the influences to which the oversensitive 
nature can subject itself there is none more dan- 
gerous and pernicious than music. For, more than 


any other power on earth, music arouses emotion 
without furnishing any hint of an end to which the 
emotion shall be directed." 

This would be a formidable indictment if its 
premises and its implications in regard to the nat- 
ure and consequences of the musical experience 
could be wholly accepted. As a general principle 
it is undoubtedly true that the end of life is pur- 
poseful activity, but surely this does not mean that 
we should be in a condition of physical or mental 
restlessness every hour of our waking existence. 
As it is the duty of some to think in solitude while 
others perform in the great world's eye, so there is 
a time in each man's life for escape from the duties 
that grind and wear, and from the emotions that 
know no peace until they have gone forth in action. 
There is a place for contemplation, for the refresh- 
ment that follows a visitation of heavenly beauty, for 
the inward happiness which may indeed strengthen 
us for purposeful activity when the proper time 
for it comes, but which our instinct tells us is a 
worthy and wholesome thing in itself, regardless of 
ulterior aims. In poetry, in art, in music there 
is, in Bliss Carman's words, "a power that stills 
our superficial, unnecessary self and allows our 
wiser, deeper self a moment or an hour of free- 
dom." James implies that the first duty after a 
musical experience is to forget it as soon as possi- 
ble, implicitly denying that one carries away from 
the concert hall anything that can profitably be re- 
lived in memory and become a restorer of the jaded 


spirit for the next day's toil. Music is an ex~ 
pression of life, and the works of the great com- 
posers are the projection of the spirit of men who 
thought deeply, wrought heroically, and imparted 
to their music the strength they won from conflict 
with the baffling mysteries and the stern oppositions 
of the world. "To quicken our life into a higher 
consciousness through the feelings is the function 
of art/' said Professor Dowden, and every one who 
takes music seriously and has come to understand 
its breadth and height would indignantly combat 
an assertion that music does not possess this quick- 
ening power. "The emotions which I experience 
while hearing music," says John Addington Sy- 
monds in his Diary, "in beautiful scenery, before 
fine pictures, in cathedrals, at the thought of noble 
men — these enable me to understand and to en- 
joy, intensify the glow of life, and raise me to a 
higher sphere." Any one who feels in himself this 
consequence of great music need not distress his 
soul with fears that his active energy will thereby 
be undermined. 

It must nevertheless be confessed that there is 
a side of aesthetic indulgence in which peril lurks, 
and no honest lover of art will refuse to face the di- 
lemma. On this subject a few things may perhaps 
profitably be said. In the first place these perils 
are not confined to music, and there is a rank in- 
justice in singling her out as a more dangerous se- 
ducer than her sisters. Certain writers are fond 
of asserting the superiority of poetry, painting, and 


sculpture to music because, as one of them declares, 
" they give us ideas to apprehend as well as beauty 
to en joy.' ' There is nothing more profitless than 
discussions over the superiority or inferiority of 
one art to another, but it may be asked, what is it 
for whidh the world has always adored art — its 
"ideas' 5 ' or its beauty? The harm that the art 
enthusiast may incur is in a too passionate love of 
Njf the sensuous, in detaching a special beauty from 
P* its proper relation to life, and in so concentrating 
his gaze on a superficial fascination as to permit 
it to hypnotize him and paralyze his will. It is a 
matter of record that this evil is as often found in 
a devotion to poetry and the arts of design as to 
music, and the fact that they are more directly con- 
nected with actual life does not make their en- 
chantments any less malign. I am not alluding to 
their ability to corrupt by actual representation, but 
rather to the tendency of the art voluptuary to 
yield to that subtle, deceiving form of self-indul- 
gence which exhausts his sympathy with the toils 
and sorrows of his fellow men while he imagines he 
is cultivating the finest capacities of his nature. 
D'Annunzio, in his novel, 77 Piacere, has vividly 
portrayed in Andrea Spirelli a nature whose moral 
decadence had been accelerated by his surrender 
to the utmost allurements of the senses. "Urban- 
ity, atticism, love of all delicacies, predilection for 
singular studies, aesthetic curiosity, refined gallantry 
were hereditary qualities in the house of Spirelli." 
Following his father's maxim that "one must make 


one's own life as one makes a work of art," Andrea 
had adopted as his one aim in life the ambition to 
develop his sensitiveness to impressions at every 
cost. Penetrated, impregnated with art, thirsty for 
pleasure, tortured by an ideal, by nature and edu- 
cation abhorring pain, he was vulnerable every- 
where. "In the tumult of contradictory inclina- 
tions he had lost all volition and all morality. The 
will, in abdicating, had yielded her sceptre to the 
instincts, and the aesthetic sense was substituted for 
the moral sense." Eventually corruption did in 
him its perfect work. 

Andrea Spirelli is by no means an isolated phe- 
nomenon in modern literature. In fact romancers 
of recent times, especially the French, seem to take 
an almost morbid pleasure in depicting the causes, 
progress, and results of those spiritual maladies that 
arise from over-indulgence in delicate specialized 
sensations. And it is not in fiction alone that we 
meet examples of moral decline accompanied by 
the most exquisite aesthetic sensibility. The lives 
of such men as Alfred de Musset, Paul Verlaine, and 
Ernest Dowson illustrate the dire possibilities that 
attend the cult of that form of beauty whose sacra- 
ments are not consecrated by virtue and adminis- 
tered in holy fear. There are also more robust 
spirits than those I have named, men and women 
whose ideals of art have been lofty and whose labors 
have been of lasting benefit to society, yet in whose 
lives there have been episodes that point an equally 
salutary if less melancholy moral. So numerous 


are the instances of intense artistic activity coupled 
with indifference to certain generally accepted ethi- 
cal sanctions, that it is not strange that many should 
incline to the belief that it is the natural tendency 
of the aesthetic passion to undermine the founda- 
tions of the sterner virtues. 

Such a conclusion is grossly exaggerated and can 
be held only in company with a superficial view of 
the nature of art and its history. It cannot be 
denied, however, that there are peculiar tempta- 
tions against which the art enthusiast and the artist 
also should be fortified. The artist and the art 
lover live in an ideal world, and their elevation above 
the prosaic routine of ordinary life seems often to 
lift them above the conventional virtues and obli- 
gations. Examples of ethical unconcern in union 
with superior artistic achievement occur most con- 
spicuously in those periods of art, such as the 
Renaissance and the nineteenth century romantic 
epoch, when all the conditions stimulated an in- 
tense individualism. In periods such as that of the 
Gothic architecture and sculpture, where the artist 
works upon general ideas and hides himself in 
production of a common type, the artist's temper is 
serene because he feels no antagonism. The artists 
of the Renaissance and the romantic period, on the 
other hand, were in arms against an established 
order, and the latter especially, in defying traditional 
authority and asserting independence in emotion 
and its expression, were frequently led into revolt 
against social usages which seemed to them involved 


in the Philistinism against which they waged a sort 
of holy war. License in matters of conduct seemed to 
them a logical corollary from the freedom of thought 
which they rightly claimed. A somewhat similar er- 
ror will beguile the eager connoisseur if he is not on 
his guard. Even when actual moral relaxation does 
not ensue, there may be a luxurious abandonment 
to a one-sided culture which entails impatience with 
humdrum responsibilities, and eventually an ener- 
vation of that motive force that is needed for the 
efficient performance of commonplace domestic and 
social duties. The art voluptuary is always in dan- 
ger of falling into that state of which Gautier speaks 
when he says of Gerard de Nerval that "the pro- 
gressive invasion of dreams had gradually rendered 
it impossible for him to live in an environment where 
realities move." 

The life of an artist offers a compensation 
for his frequent loss of hold upon external fact; 
he puts his emotion into form, he creates an- 
other fact, often so pure and lovely that his own de- 
tachment becomes a virtue because it is a necessary 
condition of a productiveness so beneficial. The 
dilettante, on the other hand, receives and enjoys at 
the cost of another's toil, while himself producing 
nothing. He often sinks into a state in which effort, 
for the time being at least, would be a burden, and 
the very work that was brought into existence with 
labor and pain may become to him a cause of lan- 
guor and apathy. 

Does this homily, it may be asked, at all concern 


the music lover? Is there any risk in the musical 
infatuation equal to that which often lies in the other 
aesthetic cravings? On one side of the indictment 
a defense can be entered. The fact that "music 
arouses emotion without furnishing any hint of an 
end to which the emotion shall be directed/ ' in- 
stead of constituting an especial snare, it seems to 
me comes near being a saving grace. Poetry and 
painting present to the imagination and the sight 
not only emotions, but objects and ends. This mu- 
sic cannot do. I am aware that many hold the 
belief that music can be moral or immoral, religious 
or irreligious per se. This is an error that is 
closely related to the notion that music alone can 
represent or describe actual concrete objects and 
definite sentiments. The demoralizing influence 
which some ascribe to the music of certain operas 
is not in the music, but (if it exists at all) in the texts 
and situations. A degrading idea may be associa- 
ated with a musical strain, but the probability is 
that this idea will fade away when the music is re- 
called. Music has a wonderful cleansing property. 
Professor George Santayana's statement that "art 
registers passions without stimulating them," and 
that " in stopping to depict them it steals away their 
life," — while somewhat in excess of the truth in 
respect to literature and the representative arts, 
is very near the truth in respect to music. It is 
doubtful if music has the power of registering pas- 
sion; it can hardly even suggest it unless one is 
predetermined to find it there. Certain it is that 


music often throws over an unworthy theme a veil 
of such magical illusion that ugliness is turned into 
beauty, vice into purity. It is her glory that when 
permitted to act in freedom her communications are 
always innocent. We may call music good or bad, 
but we mean that it is well or ill composed. We 
may call it strong or weak, noble or trivial, refined 
or coarse, but we use these terms in a musical sense, 
not attaching to them any notion of approbation or 
disapprobation on ethical grounds. Sensuous de- 
sire and gross intrigue disappear from Beaumar- 
chais's "Marriage of Figaro" when Mozart exor- 
cizes the evil spirit by the touch of his happy, guile- 
less music. Many people find it hard to accept 
these statements; the music has become so blended 
in their minds with the idea or picture that has been 
arbitrarily attached to it that they impute the effect 
of one to the other. Moreover, those who philoso- 
phize are often more prone to imagine experiences 
of others than to make an exact study of their own. 
All this seems to me so plain that when I find 
even learned musical critics imputing ethical or un- 
ethical qualities to abstract music without words, 
scene, or even title, I confess myself sorely bewil- 
dered. A well known writer of our day finds 
Chopin's music " saturated with the color and mood 
of sex." Schumann's D minor symphony is "that 
obvious autobiography of triumphant love." No- 
tice the word "obvious." Brahms, Liszt, Raff, 
Tchaikovsky "were thrall beyond any other alle- 
giance to the persuasions of sexual emotion; music 


makers haunted and enchained by the glamour of 
the erotic." The writer is not offering this as a 
mere subjective impression — the erotic music of 
these men, he asserts, "makes no concealment, as 
it admits no doubt of its origin.'' Is there not here 
an odd jumble of psychologic and aesthetic confu- 
sions ? The music of Brahms (Brahms the austere, 
Brahms the academic, so often pedantic, so often, 
we must confess it, dull) making no concealment 
and admitting no doubt of its origin in sexual emo- 
tion! Perhaps, also, certain music is pea-green, 
while other music smells of heliotrope or garlic, 
— such asseverations have been solemnly made. 
There is harm in such lucubrations as I have quoted 
because they mislead many confiding music lovers, 
persuading them, it may be, that poison lurks in 
a thing that is really pure, and this is almost as rep- 
rehensible a disservice as to persuade one that a 
harmful thing is innocent. A unique property of 
music is in that plasticity which enables it to take 
whatever stamp the fancy may choose to impress 
upon it. It suffers the hearer to conjure up what- 
ever imagery his temperament or his theory may 
suggest; but when he is enthralled by visions that 
seem to him to assume reality within this tone 
world of magic, let him consider that he is en- 
tangled, like Merlin, in spells of his own weaving. 

In this realm of the impalpable, toward which 

music so smilingly beckons, there may be pitfalls 

concealed among the flowers. But we shall not 

escape them by wholly misconceiving their nature. 



When we speak of an emotion without an object, 
objectionable because there is no outlet afforded for 
instant action, we are in danger of falling into the 
trap that lies in an uncertain meaning given to the 
word emotion. To feel pity at the sight of real 
suffering, and then let it evaporate in tearful regret 
taking no trouble to relieve, — such abortive emo- 
tion is more likely to weaken than fortify the char- 
acter. But when we use the word emotion to signify 
the mental stirring before a work of art, it carries 
very different connotations. The feelings aroused by 
a drama are not the feelings that would be aroused 
by corresponding incidents in real life. The illu- 
sionized spectator in the story, who leaped upon the 
stage to assault the successful villain, quite mis- 
understood the province of art. The murder of 
Desdemona has not the horror of reality. The 
loves of Antony and Cleopatra do not tempt us to 
emulation of their unholy excess; and it is not the 
warning of the tragic consequence that defeats the 
evil suggestion, but the intellectualizing, idealizing 
power of poetry. It is hardly correct to say that the 
emotion felt in music and other noble art has no 
end to which it may be directed. It is itself an 
end in the same sense that a religious emotion is 
itself an end. No one is reasonably required to 
turn every high mood into an instantaneous im- 
pulse to action. If this mood, whether it comes 
from music or any other pure source, makes one 
to any extent or in any particular a better man, 
then a worthy end is served. The deeds will follow 


when the proper occasion comes for them. And 
so music, while it may not arouse a zeal for speedy 
effort, may yet have other offices not less worthy. 
Through its power to soothe and refresh, to sym- 
bolize what is pure and holy, to promote the social 
consciousness by effecting a sense of fellowship 
with others in a refined experience, to brace the 
mind for coming duties by the tonic of joy, to v/ 
lighten care and soften the hardness of adversity — /\ 
through these blessed ministries has music earned ' 
the praises which the wise ones of the earth have 
always lavished upon her as an inspiring ally in 
moral culture and humanitarian progress. When a 
man feels himself thus exalted by music, when the 
glow of tenderness pervades his being as he goes 
home from a concert hall, he should not be ready 
to banish the impression. Even so kindly an act 
as speaking genially to his aunt would be wrong 
for him were it to bring him down abruptly from 
the soul's height which, as Wordsworth reminds 
us, is so difficult to keep. 

In view of the conditions that prevail in this 
country and the mental habits of our people, it does 
not appear that either music or any other form of 
art is destined soon to become an influence that 
makes for social anaemia. But we may reach that 
point at last. If one uses art in such a way that 
it becomes a de-intellectualizing agency, to the de- 
moralizing stage is only a step. The national re- 
proach lies in the fact that, while we are beginning 
to encourage art, we use it as a detail in our pur- 


suit of ostentation and pleasure, not for the incor- 
poration of noble ideals or as an element in the dis- 
semination of such ideals among the various ranks 
of society. We have not learned to take art seri- 
ously; we have no distinct knowledge of the pur- 
pose that the arts, when made a part of religion and 
patriotic aspiration, have fulfilled in history; we 
have no resolute ambition to bring them into the 
deeper currents of our life. A superficial dilettant- 
ism is still characteristic of many who take notice 
of art, while the attitude of the great majority 
is that of stupid disrespect. It may be that this 
indifference is slowly giving way, but if so the dan- 
ger is that those who leave the crowd of the obtuse 
and join the circle of the amateurs will do so with- 
out bringing with them any very stern determina- 
tion to use art as a means of adding to the true 
riches of the soul. The gain is not great if there is 
merely a multiplication of the horde that sees only 
the sensuous side of art, skimming its surface for 
a taste of momentary delectation, finding nothing 
that strengthens the understanding or reenforces the 
agencies that make for enlightenment and virtue. 

So far as music is concerned (and the rules of 
health are the same in all the arts) the individual's 
safeguard against the enfeeblement which may re- 
sult from over-indulgence in the sweets of this most 
intoxicating of aesthetic enjoyments is, it seems to 
me, twofold. In the first place we may say, para- 
phrasing a well known maxim respecting the evils 
of democracy, that the cure for the possible ills of 


music is more music. By this I mean more music 
of the highest order, together with a preparation 
of mind that enables one to discriminate between 
the qualities that fade and the qualities that endure, 
and an artistic conscience that refuses to find satis- 
faction in work that is not sincerely felt and skil- 
fully wrought. Anything less than this is injustice 
to one's self, injustice to the art, and injustice to 
the musician who asks that he shall not be exposed 
to the temptation of degrading his work in order 
that he may live. 

In the second place, the conscientious amateur 
will escape the danger that lies in wait for those 
who are too much at ease in the musical Zion, if 
he will add his own momentum to those blessed 
efforts, that are springing up all over this country, 
to bring the sweet. companionship of music to those 
who live far from the centres of culture, to those 
who are forming their taste in colleges and schools, 
and to those who toil with their hands for daily 
bread. In this age of humanitarian endeavor, he is 
indeed an alert observer who can count the move- 
ments for the welfare of men which make their ap- 
pearance every day; it would not be strange if he 
overlooked the efforts which are organized in many 
of our cities for the musical benefit of the masses. 
This is not the place to enumerate them or to de- 
scribe the happy results that flow from them. It 
is enough to say that the common belief that the 
people prefer bad music to good is everywhere re- 
futed. The tribute that has been paid by a promi- 


nent critic to the service of the People's Symphony 
concerts in New York would be applicable to other 
similar institutions. In speaking of the large and 
enthusiastic audiences he says: "These people are 
learning what music is; what the composers have 
created and set before them for the information of 
their intellect and the warning of their imagination. 
They are true and humble and devoted music 
lovers, and in their homes the tone art will be a 
part of the daily thought of their children and come 
into its own." 

In spite of the influences that are now in action 
for the dissemination of good music among all the 
social groups, the taste of the vast majority is still 
debased, and the amount of vulgar, trashy music 
heard at the thousands of cheap pleasure resorts 
is appalling. Yet there is comfort in the belief 
that the masses seize eagerly upon music of the 
"cheap and nasty" variety because they have not 
been able to hear any other. Good music, at least 
decent music, prevails when it is given a chance, and 
although Gresham's law may be true in the world 
of finance it has no counterpart in the world of 
tone. No one ever devoted himself with unselfish 
zeal to the improvement of the public taste who 
did not find encouragement, and, if he persevered, 
a reward beyond his hopes. Philanthropists have 
only just begun to see what the elevation of the 
people's amusements would do for public content- 
ment and public morals. Here is a field in which 
all can try experiments. One result at least is 


sure, — any one will find that his artistic pleasures 
will contribute to his moral growth if he seeks 
cordially to share them with his neighbor. If any 
harm ever comes from the indulgence of a love for 
art it will be because that love is egotistic, because 
it loses sight of the fact that the enjoyment of one, 
however refined and pure it may appear to be, is a 
delusion unless it is of such a kind that it can unite 
with the interest of all. 

At the end of this long argument framed for the 
justification of the study of music to the reason, 
and in deprecation of certain deductions which 
something in music's nature seems so prone to 
encourage, the feeling comes over me that I have 
played an ungrateful, half-treacherous part in seem- 
ing to imply that any apology should ever be needed 
for whole souled devotion to this queenliest and 
most beneficent of the arts. When her pure ac- 
cents fall upon our ears, transmitted to us by those 
prophets and high priests of Beauty whom we call 
composers, when our whole being trembles with a 
joy which we know contains no admixture of evil 
because it is not of the world in which our feet 
stumble and our hands are soiled, — in these rapt 
moments we may easily be moved to think that 
our hard won scientific lore, our calm critical ap- 
praisals, are after all impertinent, for what can 
music ask of us, what can anything fair and holy 
ask of us, except unsuspicious acceptance and glad 
surrender? If we are told, while still under the 


sway of some sublime harmony, that music is of 
inferior worth because it is detached from life, we 
are tempted to ask our monitor, with something 
like indignation, what he means by life; if there 
is no life except what we can see and touch; and 
whence, if not from life — life that is very full, 
very rich, and near to the centre of Being — can a 
communication of such ineffable beauty proceed? 
There is something inferior and partial in a 
phase of life that has nothing in it to which music 
can suggest a counterpart, for music, more than 
any other form of human expression, tells us of a 
sphere into which we can rise where contradictions 
are removed and discords resolved. Perhaps the 
mystics to whom I have referred, such as Thoreau 
and Hearn, who are lifted by music "above the 
mire and dust of the universe," hearing "reminders 
of our destiny," who are haunted in music by "the 
pains and joys of lives innumerable," — perhaps 
they have seen more deeply than the critics and 
theorists and are the true soothsayers. It is the 
unique praise of music that the humble and suffer- 
ing ones, in every age and in every land, have sought 
in the folk song for abiding consolation; that religion 
has found her offices of worship grow cold when 
deprived of music's presence; that patriotism has 
found in melody its most potent stimulus to heroic 
deed; that every phase of domestic life, from the 
cradle to the grave, has always and everywhere been 
sweetened and sanctified by this blessed ministry. 
It has ever been the purpose of music to increase 


the joy of the world. In the last analysis this is 
the supreme aim of all art and its chief est glory; 
and what words can there be that are eloquent 
enough to give sufficient honor to whatever helps to 
convince men that they are born for happiness? 
And thus every man who brings beauty nearer to 
his fellows and makes them love it more is a mission- 
ary of a sacred cause, a herald of peace and good 

There are agencies that lift men into moods that 
are blithe and hopeful, in which strength is re- 
newed and faith rekindled, and one of them is 
music. In spite of exceptions so rare that they 
emphasize the rule, it is a fact of deep significance 
that music, the universal art, to which men have 
confided the most cherished experiences of their 
souls, is an art that tells of gladness. The student 
of the world's literature is constantly touching a 
vein of disillusion and despair, and his contact 
with many of its rarest minds often leaves him 
depressed. But at the sound of music cares and 
distresses are overborne, and the soul is set adrift 
on a tide that flows toward radiant horizons. Not 
that music has no sympathy with sorrow, but when 
she enters into places of mourning she does so not 
to make more poignant the agony of grief, but 
rather to console. And this triumph of the soul 
of which music testifies is no mere distraction, 
bringing false comfort by concealing the truth. It 
imparts strength because its majestic movement 
tells of tireless power; it opens vistas of hope be- 


cause its golden tones bear no trace of the dis- 
cordant sounds of earthly struggle and lamenting. 
Let us not fear, then, lest we bestow too much 
thought upon music, or lest we be overzealous 
in furthering its interests in the community. We 
have only to watch that we love it wisely, study 
it broadly and seriously, train our perceptions to 
catch the whole of its meaning and not a fragment, 
strive to discover the relation of music to life, and 
not vainly imagine that he honors music, or does 
good service to himself, who takes the flattering 
unction to his soul that his taste separates him from 
those who lack what he is pleased to call culture. 
Art, when rightly understood, promotes fraternity 
and not exclusiveness. The revival of art and its 
adoption into the system of popular education is 
a sign of health in our age, and to it every loyal 
citizen should give heed and lend his aid in bring- 
ing its benefits close to the public need. His prep- 
aration for this service, when the art of music is in- 
volved, will be first of all in his education as a 
true music lover. He will seek association with 
the great tone masters, he will confidingly yield his 
spirit to the healthful currents that flow from their 
strong spirits. He will so nourish his musical ap- 
preciations that his consciousness of the vital things 
in the art will flourish with his general mental 
growth, with his advancement in taste, with his in- 
creasing reverence for all things that are excellent 
and fair. Convinced that strength and enlarge- 
ment come from music when its social and individ- 


ual quickening power is rightly applied, he will find 
the warrant of his discipleship in the zeal to assist 
every unselfish effort to open highways for this 
emissary of good in its gladsome errand among 



The following is an incomplete list of non-techni- 
cal books that will prove valuable to the amateur 
music lover. Histories, biographies, dictionaries, 
and text books are not included. Should the 
reader wish to extend his researches further, he will 
find in the author's The Study of the History of 
Music a very ample list of works touching all 
sides of musical knowledge. 

Ambros (A. W.). The Boundaries of Music and Poetry. Tr. 

by Cornell. New York: Schirmer, 1893. 
Baughan (E. A.). Music and Musicians. London: Lane, 

Coerne (L. A.). The Evolution of Modern Orchestration. 

New York: Macmillan, 1908. 
Combarieu (Jules). Music, Its Laws and Evolution. Inter- 
national Scientific Series. New York: Appleton, 1910. 
Ffrangcon-Davies (David). The Singing of the Future. 

London: Lane, 1906. 
Finck (H. T.). Chopin and Other Musical Essays. New 

York: Scribner, 1894. 
. Songs and Song Writers. New York: Scribner, 

. Success in Music and How It Is Won. New York: 

Scribner, 1909. 
Gilman (Lawrence). Phases of Modern Music. New York: 

Harper, 1904. 



Gilman (Lawrence). Stories of Symphonic Music: A Guide to 

the Meaning of Important Symphonies, Overtures, and 

Tone Poems from Beethoven to the Present Day, New 

York: Harper, 1904. 
Glyn (Margaret H). The Rhythmic Conception of Music. 

New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1907. 
Grove (George). Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies. 

London: Novello, 1896. 
Gurney (Edmund). The Power 0} Sound. London: Smith, 

Elder & Co., 1880. 
Hadow (W. H.). Studies in Modern Music. 2 vols. New 

York: Macmillan, 1892-3. 
Hale (Philip), editor and author. Program Books of the Boston 

Symphony Orchestra. Published annually by C. A. 

Henderson (W. J.)« Modern Musical Drift. New York: 

Longmans, 1904. 

. Preludes and Studies. New York: Longmans, 1891 

— . The Art of the Singer. New York: Scribner, 


. The Orchestra and Orchestral Music. New York: 

Scribner, 1899. 

. What is Good Music? New York: Scribner, 1898. 

Kobbe (Gustav). How to Appreciate Music. New York: 

Moffat, Yard & Co., 1910. 
Krehbiel (H. E.). How to Listen to Music. New York: 

Scribner, 1897. 
Lavignac (Albert). Music and Musicians. Tr. by Mar- 
chant. New York: Holt, 1905. 
Mason (D. G.). A Guide to Music. New York: Baker 

& Taylor Co., 1910. 
. The Orchestral Instruments and What They Do. New 

York: Baker & Taylor Co., 1910. 
Mason (D. G.) and Surette (T. W.). The Appreciation of 

Music. New York: Baker & Taylor Co., 1910. 

(An explanation of the chief musical forms, with special 

reference to the works of Bach and Beethoven.) 


Mees (Arthur). Choirs and Choral Music. New York: 
Scribner, 1901. 

Newman (Ernest). Musical Studies. London: Lane, 1905. 

Niecks (Frederick). Programme Music in the Last Four Cen- 
turies. London: Novello, 1907. 

Parry (C. H. H.). The Evolution of the Art oj Music. New 
York: Appleton, 1896. 

Pole (William). The Philosophy 0} Music. London: Trub- 
ner, 1879. 
(An explanation of the principles of musical science.) 

Riemann (Hugo). Catechism of Musical Msthetics. Tr. 
byBerewunge. London: Augener, no date. 

. Dictionary of Music. Tr. by Shedlock, London: 


Symons (Arthur). Studies in Seven Arts. New York: 
Dutton, 1906. 

Upton (G. P.). The Standard Concert Guide: A Handbook 
of the Standard Symphonies, Oratorios, Cantatas, and 
Symphonic Poems for the Concert Goer. Chicago: 
McClurg, 1908. 

. The Standard Operas. Chicago: McClurg, 1908. 

Wagner (Richard). On Conducting. Tr. by Dannreuther. 
London: Reeves, 1887. 

Wallaschek (Richard). Primitive Music. London: Long- 
mans, 1893. 




- BBh 

BHfflBlffl HH Bll BBi BBSS 

tPWW^wwwBM asssasn BBS— ^MHSBHMP B8388 

j fiP T T CTff lHfWHHfll ^B^BHHBl^BiHI 

^MESHi iiHrailil 

mm g|H ^^§^pl 


fl MWW HH '; V ; ; v ess BSi 

i7^tfjj fff Hffl B«l 


^^^^^^^^ram BSHBI 

HBB9B B)W8 SH SW bbbb B9 

^H HgHl BWa v^*^-^'^ ' 


n^^^BI^HI Hi 

A uraw tf i sRSaB HBR9HH HHHN9 BbhBGBSb 

kwii w i nwii mF.mM'jqllPlJ lB CE HKGH9S 

■ II B 

Mm& Hi 

B m « B^*##$ B 

RBnH^^^H HH ■nam 

lllii H^H B 

iBl Hi ■ ■